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Kenneth Maehara

1942 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Kenneth Maehara Obituary
Kenneth Takayuki Maehara

May 7, 1942

August 26, 2013

Ken Maehara, longtime pathology professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, passed away on Aug. 26, 2013, with his family by his side, after a three and a half year battle with cancer.

Ken was a loving husband, a devoted father and grandfather, an enthusiastic teacher, and a loyal friend, who loved baseball, mystery novels, and working outdoors at his cabin in the woods. He played league softball for many years and, during the course of his illness, told his doctors that he would endure their treatments, so long as they didn't interfere with his softball schedule. He enjoyed cooking, and was renowned at the School of Medicine for his sushi. He enjoyed eating as well, and had an uncanny ability to show up wherever celebrations involving food were in progress.

He was the first Japanese-American child born at the Relocation Center in Portland, Oregon, where his parents were sent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They were transferred shortly after his birth to the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho, where they remained until Ken was three years old. He researched and presented on the internment camps in adult life, determined to make sure that unfortunate chapter in American history would not be forgotten.

Ken earned his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Microbiology at San Jose State College, and his Ph.D. in Immunology at Washington State University. After teaching at universities in North Carolina, California, and New Mexico, he moved to Reno where he served the University of Nevada, Reno for 36 years, beginning in 1977, with the last 22 of those years at the School of Medicine as the Course Coordinator for Pathology in Year II.

He received the Outstanding Basic Science Teacher award for 17 of the 22 years he taught at the School of Medicine, a record number of honors by students who described him as one their most demanding professors. Though his reputation as a tough taskmaster, which he cultivated with care, brought most students to their first pathology class in fear, they soon came to know "Dr. M." as a wise, funny, and caring man, who took the time to know them as individuals, and whose concern was for their best interest, and that of their future patients. He was a two-time honoree for outstanding teacher for the School of Medicine, received the Outstanding Teaching Award for the Division of Health Science and was a recipient or finalist for the F. Donald Tibbetts Distinguished Professor Award in four separate years.

Preceded in death by his father, Yoshio Maehara, Ken is survived by his wife, Debra Chase; mother, Kazuko Uchida Maehara; sister, Janice Milton; brother, Jerry Maehara; son, Rusty Maehara; daughter, Tanya Maehara; grandchildren, Cobi, Alyssa and Evyn Maehara; stepsons, Matthew and Christopher (Amanda) Chase; and step-grandchildren, Lauren and Sarah Chase.

A celebration of Ken's life will be held at the Center for Molecular Medicine on the University of Nevada, Reno campus on Saturday, October 12, 2013, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Ken Maehara Memorial Fund at the University of Nevada School of Medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno, MS 0530, Reno, NV 89557. Contributions may also be made to the Prostate Cancer Center at UCSF,

Details on the Celebration of Life and the memorial fund can be found at

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8, 2013
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