Couple devoted to ethnic history — and each other — die days apart

Wayne Maeda (right) and his wife Lorrie Toohey-Maeda (left), both were Sacramento scholars -- he at Sacramento State, she at Sacramento City College -- died within three days of each other last week, both succumbing to cancer.

Wayne Maeda (right) and his wife Lorrie Toohey-Maeda (left), both were Sacramento scholars — he at Sacramento State, she at Sacramento City College — died within three days of each other last week, both succumbing to cancer.

By Stephen Magagnini

Sacramento Bee

Published Thursday, Mar. 07, 2013

Lorrie Toohey-Maeda’s breast cancer had come back, but the longtime Sacramento City College history teacher put off chemo treatments to be with her husband, Wayne Maeda, who was suffering from cancer, too.

“She asked me if she could stop her chemo to take care of Wayne,” said her son Jamey Saltzman. “I was fine with the risks she was willing to take on his behalf because they loved each other so much.”

Wayne Maeda, one of California’s leading voices on Japanese American history, died Feb. 27. His wife, a well-regarded academic in her own right, died three days later.

Their passing is a blow to Sacramento’s ethnic and academic communities: In their careers, Maeda, 65, and Toohey-Maeda, 64, collaborated to tell the story of Japanese Americans in Sacramento and the Delta, according to Greg Mark, director of Asian American studies at California State University, Sacramento.

Maeda, a professor at Sacramento State for four decades, founded the university’s Asian American and ethnic studies program.

Mark said that Maeda organized students who pushed for the creation of the program in 1969. “Wayne’s impacted thousands of students who took his classes over 42 years at Sac State. He challenged them intellectually, made them work hard and made them proud of who they were, whether they were Asian American, African American, Indian, Latino or European American.”

Sacramento State plans to create an Asian American studies archive and name it after Maeda, Mark said.

Maeda broke new ground with his book, “Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region,” according to Kenji Taguma, editor of Nichi Bei Weekly, the oldest continuous Japanese newspaper in the United States.

Maeda also curated the landmark 1992 Sacramento History Museum exhibit, “Continuing Traditions: Japanese Americans, Story of a People, 1869-1992.”

The son of Japanese Americans interned at Poston, Ariz., during World War II, Maeda grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He burned with a passion for justice, built bridges between Asian Americans and other disenfranchised people of color and was dedicated to never letting the mistakes of American history be repeated.

“The phrase that sums Wayne up is his email moniker:,” said Christina Fa Mark, an Asian American activist who is married to Greg Mark. “He said it referred to his staying mad as an advocate for Asian American communities. … Wayne stayed ‘mad’ from the ’60s until his last days.”

Taguma said he became a student activist at Sac State in 1991 after stumbling into Maeda’s Asian American studies class by accident.

“When I told him my dad, Noboru Taguma, was one of about 300 Japanese American draft resisters behind barbed wire who refused to serve in the American army unless their families were released and their citizenship restored, his eyes lit up,” Taguma recalled. “For years they had been ostracized by the Japanese American Citizens League because they were thought of as disloyal troublemakers.”

By encouraging Taguma to tell the story of his father and the other resisters and including it in a Sacramento History Museum exhibit, Maeda helped vindicate the resisters. In 2002, the national JACL held a “resisters reconciliation ceremony.”

“I’ve adopted his commitment to historical accuracy as my mantra,” Teguma said. “He was the greatest role model, who lit a fire in me to organize forums on hate crimes following the 1993 racially motivated firebombings in Sacramento.”

The targets were three synagogues and the local offices of the JACL and the NAACP.

Taguma has taken Maeda’s oral history. He said that over the past few months, Wayne Maeda and Lorrie Toohey-Maeda “taught me so much about love, strength and perseverance. She was such a strong, amazing woman, a care giver to the end. While tragic, there’s some beauty in them leaving this world together.”

Toohey-Maeda, a Yurok Indian, was born in Eureka and taught history at Sacramento City College from 1998 to 2012.

She and Maeda became close friends and married in 2008, Saltzman said.

He described Maeda as prickly; Toohey-Maeda loved to laugh, he said. “My favorite nickname for Wayne was Grumpa, but she softened him and that curmudgeon became goofy and poked fun at himself,” Saltzman said. “It was wonderful to behold.”

But when Saltzman once disrespected his mom, “Wayne called me and he was angry – he said under no circumstances did he want me to ever disrespect my mother again,” Saltzman said. “It brought me to tears. I loved the fact my mom had somebody to look after her and I loved the fact she was willing to put her life on the line so he could pass in his home, the way he wanted to pass.”

In 2011, Maeda was diagnosed with Stage 4 bladder cancer and had a kidney and 13 lymph nodes removed in August – the first in a long chain of tragic news for the family, Saltzman said.

“My mother discovered she had breast cancer, and then that September my brother, an alcoholic, killed himself. That November, my mom’s older brother died.”

While she dealt with a tremendous amount of grief, Maeda “looked out for her, cared for her and made himself emotionally present for her,” Saltzman said. “Wayne was the best thing that ever happened to her, and she was the best thing that ever happened to him.”

Satsuka Ina, a longtime friend whose husband has battled cancer, said the four of them would meet to support each other.

“Wayne was firm and very demanding of his students, but he would give those in need money to buy books,” Ina said. “He wasn’t flashy, but he touched many lives with his kindness and inspiration.”

“Lorrie always looked on the bright side, and brought that out in him,” Ina said.

She asked friends to fill their garden with flowers so when he came home from surgery, “he could look out the window and see how loved he was,” Ina recalled.

When Maeda died last Wednesday, “my mom was devastated,” Saltzman said. “I took her to the emergency room Friday in excruciating pain.”

Last November, Toohey-Maeda had taken her son up the California coast to Trinidad, where her grandmother Mary Beech was the last of her Yurok tribe to be born in the old Indian village of Tsurai. “Mary was born in a hut on the beach, and my mom wanted to be buried in Trinidad with Wayne,” Saltzman said.

“Together, they were greater than the sum of their parts.”


Born: Aug. 26, 1947, Dayton, Ohio

Died: Feb. 27, 2013

Known For: Helped found Asian American studies and ethnic studies at California State University, Sacramento, where he taught for 42 years; author of “Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region”

Survived by: daughters Yumi Maeda and Sachi Maeda, and ex-wife Elaine Matsumoto Maeda.


Born: June 26, 1948 in Eureka

Died: March 2, 2013

Known for: Longtime history teacher at Sacramento City College; curated exhibits on Japanese Americans and ethnic groups during the California Gold Rush; helped families struggling with developmental disabilities.

Survived by: son Jamey Saltzman, daughter Kristine Saltzman, two grandchildren.

Services: A joint service will be at 3 p.m. Friday, Buddhist Church of Sacramento-Betsuin, 2401 Riverside Blvd. A potluck reception will be held after the memorial.

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Dear Dad, on the eve of the two-year anniversary of your passing, Mom, Mari and I brought you flowers from the memorial service of Wayne Maeda, who helped to bring out your story of principled resistance during World War II. A fitting tie between you two. We still miss you dearly. Thanks for instilling in me a strong sense of pride and principle.

Dear Dad, on the eve of the two-year anniversary of your passing, Mom, Mari and I brought you flowers from the memorial service of Wayne Maeda, who helped to bring out your story of principled resistance during World War II. A fitting tie between you two. We still miss you dearly. Thanks for instilling in me a strong sense of pride and principle.

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Video Remembrance of Noboru Taguma (from Memorial Service)

In Remembrance of Noboru Taguma

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Remembering ‘Sonny Boy’

“Sonny Boy” – Noboru Taguma




Noboru Taguma was a farm boy. He grew up understanding the meaning of hard work, responsibility, and respect for his elders. At the age of nine, he already understood that he was responsible for his younger brothers, and he took that responsibility very seriously. At this young age, he even tried to drive his father home one night when his father was in no condition to drive. When Noboru was pulled over by a motorcycle police officer, the officer kept calling him “Sonny boy,” even though Noboru Taguma insisted that this was not his name. When the officer gave him a citation (clearly at the age of nine he was too young to be driving on a highway), Noboru thought he was giving him was a certificate for driving straight. Only later did he realize it was a ticket. Paul Tsuneishi kept this name alive for the rest of Noboru’s life after hearing this story, always asking, “How’s my Sonny Boy doing?” The name caught on. Sonny Boy Noboru Taguma was ahead of his years at nine taking responsibility for his younger siblings and even expecting an award for driving straight when he was pulled over for trying to drive his father home.


During the war, Noboru knew that being in camp was hardest on the Issei, especially Issei farmers. If there was one thing that his father understood was the pride that came from working hard and making an honest living. Being confined to the camps, away from their farms, and denied the respect of being the head of the family and leaders in the community was traumatic for Noboru’s father, as it was for most Issei men. The college educated JACL Nisei, Noboru recalled, did not really understand how hard this was, especially on farmers when the JACL embraced “evacuation” and confinement in the camps as a way to prove their American loyalty.


When Noboru received his draft notice after being in the camps for two years, he refused. He did not need a college degree or a sophisticated understanding of the Constitution to take an impressive stand for the rights of citizenship and to demand some respect for his parents. If his parents were freed from the camps and allowed to go back to their farm in California, he would serve proudly, but until then, he refused. He was one of the first Nisei to refuse the draft. Even though James Omura, later defender of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, suggested that these first Nisei were rash in their arguments and too disorganized to make a difference, Taguma did not back down. The JACL leaders, most notably Min Yasui and Joe Grant Masaoka, came to see Noboru Taguma and the other first four resisters in an effort to convince them to give up the fight. As Taguma recalled, “the JACL say, sacrifice your life to prove your loyalty.” But that was just crazy in Noboru’s mind. “We were loyal to America,” he said, “but the government itself was un-loyal to us.” With the support of his father, who urged him to stick with whatever decision he made, Noboru Taguma resisted the draft and later renounced his citizenship in an effort to bring the family together and to get them to Tule Lake – a little closer to home than Granada, Colorado. Despite the fact that Taguma’s efforts to reunite the family did not work out as planned, and despite the fact that the JACL did not recognize his principled resistance until 2002, Taguma knew that he did the right thing in standing up against injustice during the war.


When I started to learn about the resisters’ stories, I was very fortunate to meet Noboru Taguma. Simple stories of loyalty and the Constitution would not suffice. It was Noboru Taguma who made me look hard at the unique way that farm families responded to the war, to their confinement, and to the draft. As Noboru explained to me, President Truman understood the sacrifices of farmers. He was a farm boy himself. Truman ordered an investigation into all draft resistance cases and at the end of 1947, he gave presidential pardons to all Japanese American resisters, including Noboru Taguma. Clearly Japanese Americans felt betrayed when they were ordered to leave their homes, leave their farms, and subject themselves to the humiliation of confinement in camps that defied any legal protections of due process.


Noboru Taguma told his story to Paul Tsuneishi, an avid supporter of the resisters, who picked up on the stories of Taguma’s youth and started calling him “Sonny Boy.” Noboru Taguma’s lessons from his childhood did pave the way for the rest of his life. It was loyalty and respect for family and for his father that helped give him the courage to stand up against injustice.


Noboru Taguma looked up to others who stood up against injustice during the war. He especially admired Gordon Hirabayashi, who said that the Constitution was just a piece of paper. It is the responsibility of individuals to defend it, or as Noboru Taguma said, “It’s the people who got to protect that.” Younger generations might know that, but Noboru Taguma believed it was his responsibility to remind them: “I tell them always fight for your rights. That’s all. Everybody’s equal in America.”


Noboru Taguma will be remembered not just as a resister, but as a man who lived the lessons he learned as a child – to respect his elders, to take care of his family, and to stand up for what is just and right.


Cherstin M. Lyon is an assistant professor of history at the California State University, San Bernadino. Her recently published book, “Prisons and Patriots: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory” — which is about civil rights icon Gordon Hirabayashi and the “Tucsonian” Nisei draft resisters — can be purchased at

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Prof. Art Hansen’s review of new book on Tucsonian resisters and Gordon Hirabayshi

A lifelong relationship: Citizens and the state

January 1, 2012

By ART HANSEN, Nichi Bei Weekly Contributor

PRISONS AND PATRIOTS: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory
By Cherstin M. Lyon
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011, 233 pp., $30.95, paperback)

“Prisons and Patriots” is Cherstin Lyon’s first book. Its publication catapults Professor Lyon, a historian at California State University, San Bernardino, into the ranks of the premier scholars of World War II Japanese American protest and dissent. Accordingly, this volume will now assume a place among seminal books like Roger Daniels’s “Concentration Camps U.S.A.: Japanese Americans and World War II” (1971), Michi Nishiura Weglyn’s “Years of Infamy” (1976), Richard Drinnon’s “Keeper of Concentration Camps” (1987), Eric Muller’s “Free to Die for Their Country” (2001), Frank Chin’s “Born in the USA” (2002), and Shirley Castlenuovo’s “Soldiers of Conscience” (2008), as well as such similarly consequential documentary films as Emiko Omori’s “Rabbit in the Moon” (1999) and Frank Abe’s “Conscience and the Constitution” (2000).

“Prisons and Patriots” originated in the “Tucsonian” Oral History Project that Lyon launched at the 1999 ceremony renaming the Tucson Federal Prison Camp as the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site. During World War II this facility was a minimum-security honor camp for prisoners constructing highways in Arizona’s scenic Catalina Mountains above Tucson. In 1943 it detained Hirabayashi, a University of Washington Nisei student, Quaker, and conscientious objector who the previous year had resisted U.S. government-imposed curfew and exclusion orders on West Coast Nikkei (and then later became a draft resister). In 1944 it confined 41 other Nisei, mostly inmates from the War Relocation Authority-administered concentration camps at Topaz, Utah, and Amache, Colorado, who resisted induction without having their stripped prewar U.S. citizen rights restored.

Lyon draws upon her interviews with Hirabayashi and the other Nisei Tucsonians plus archival documentation to craft a compelling narrative. On one level, it conveys a multifaceted story about a largely neglected wartime confinement site. On a deeper level, though, it relates why and how its Nikkei denizens elected to demonstrate their patriotism via U.S. Constitution-sanctioned civil disobedience as against heeding combined federal government and Japanese American Citizens League propaganda and pressure to prove their “loyalty” through segregated military service.

The genius of Lyon’s book lies less in the stories she recounts than in her placing them into instructive and relevant contexts. The most important of them concerns the nature of citizenship. While seemingly static in “ordinary” times, notes the author, this concept in unstable times (e.g., during World War II and today’s roiled global climate) becomes “contested, variable, fluid.” Citizenship, Lyon contends, is “not simply a set of rights or obligations to be granted [but is instead] … the relationship between citizens and the state, and [it] is redefined over the life of the individual and in response to the state’s changing needs.” Building upon this insight, Lyon persuasively advances the grounded argument that over and beyond the Tucsonians, Gordon Hirabayashi, and the several hundred draft resisters within the constellation of Japanese American prison camps, the entire wartime incarcerated population of Nikkei mounted a “strong, diverse, and at times well-organized resistance” to both voluntary service and the draft.

While neither the wartime acts of individual draft resisters nor the pervasive community resistance sentiment underlying them has yet attained a popular hold on the American or Japanese American collective memory, “Prisons and Patriots” promises to provide this development with considerably greater traction. Moreover, it very likely will serve the same function for those still demonized Japanese Americans who during World War II renegotiated their U.S. citizenship rights and obligations through expatriation and renunciation.


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New book on resisters examines wartime definition of patriotism, civil disobedience

October 20, 2011 By Nichi Bei Weekly Staff

CHICAGO — A new book being published by Temple University Press in November is re-examining wartime definitions of citizenship, patriotism, prisons, and civil disobedience through the lives of Gordon Hirabayashi and a group of Nisei draft resisters who called themselves the “Tucsonians.”
“Prisons and Patriots: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory” is written by Cherstin M. Lyon, an assistant professor of history at the California State University, San Bernardino.
According to the publisher, “Prisons and Patriots” provides a detailed account of 41 Nisei, known as the “Tucsonians,” who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during World War II. Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and incarceration, who also resisted the draft.
These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war.
Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through history — how soldiers have been celebrated for their valor while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei. Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.
“‘Prisons and Patriots’ adds welcome depth and analysis to a growing number of works that are now disclosing two increasingly important reasons the Japanese American experience during World War II needs further research: first, the complex ways in which the Japanese American communities responded to the unconstitutional barbarity with which the U.S. government treated them and, second, the fascinating ways in which postwar actors sought to play roles in the crafting of a metanarrative for the ethnic group, the war, and the nation,” stated Franklin S. Odo, chief, Asian Division, Library of Congress.
“In ‘Prisons and Patriots,’ Cherstin Lyon presents, in a clear, accessible style, original material that is not available elsewhere. She provides interesting case studies of the internment of the draft resisters — known as ‘Tucsonians’ — along with an examination of the generational conflict within the Japanese American community,” said a review of the book by Frank Wu, chancellor and dean at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and author of “Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White.”

“Prisons and Patriots” can be ordered at:

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Remembering you, dad, on Father’s Day

Dad, it’s been three months since you’ve passed, and we all miss you so much, especially mom, who had been by your side for 53 years. We will do our best to look after her in your physical absence. I will take mom to visit you at Sacramento Memorial Lawn today. Today, I will post a couple of the eulogies and remembrances from your service. Kenji


Remembering my father, resister Noboru Taguma

Eulogy by Kenji G. Taguma

April 9, 2011

Sacramento Memorial Lawn

We find our heroes wherever we can, sometimes not by choice. They could be Super Bowl MVPs, or even more iconic figures like MLK, Malcom X or Cesar Chavez. But some heroes are not necessarily found in history books.

But what my dad taught me is that ordinary people can do extraordinary things in the face of adversity. Even a simple, unsophisticated farm boy like my father.

Growing up, I was ashamed of my heritage, as I was constantly teased for my slanted eyes, and called “Nip,” “Jap” or “Chink” all too frequently. I used to run away from my own mother as she yelled my name in Japanese at the local supermarket. I just wanted to be a “regular” American. But now I realize that “America” is indeed in the heart, and that people of color, who have been marginalized in history textbooks, do have their rightful place in the great American mosaic.

My father’s story saved me. It gave me a sense of purpose. It instilled an unbreakable sense of pride, an unshakeable sense of principle.

My personal relationship with my father, however, actually wasn’t always so great, particularly in my teens, when I saw him as an easily irritable old man. It was probably partially my fault, however, that he appeared so mean. The fifth of five kids, I took it upon myself to rebel from the examples set before me by my other siblings, who were exceptional students, athletes, or both. One day, my English teacher took me outside of class, concerned about my academic performance when compared to my other siblings. I just laughed at him. I knew I wasn’t dumb — I became the editor of our school yearbook, after all — but I felt more at ease goofing off in high school. Instead of the 4.0 GPAs of my siblings, sometimes I barely made a 2.0.

At home, I was a lazy, unfilial son. I wouldn’t be quick to do any chores, and intentionally wouldn’t try hard with homework. In addition, my father must have been disappointed with me, as I got into trouble with the law twice. He never even heard of my other run-ins with the law, including another time when police guns were drawn upon me.

Because of my lack of ambition, he kept yelling at me “Prido ga nai! Prido ga nai!” — or “You have no pride!” He also kept saying “They don’t know about us guys. They don’t know about us resisters” like a mantra.

It wasn’t until my chance enrollment in an Asian American studies class that I started to understand what my father meant, and I began to discover the true heroism in his wartime actions. My semester-long project for Wayne Maeda’s class was to interview and research my father’s history, which eventually became part of Wayne’s exhibit at the Sacramento History Museum.

This process was an epiphany. It transformed me from a relatively shy 20-something — in danger of dropping out of college because I couldn’t deal with Business Calculus — and it gave me my new calling as an activist. I changed my major from International Business to Ethnic Studies, and organized the first of some two dozen programs on the California State University, Sacramento campus — on Nisei draft resistance during World War II. I went on to organize forums on hate crimes, anti-immigrant legislation, Asian Heritage Weeks, film festivals and the like, while publishing three editions of my own Asian American newspaper — all within the course of just one and-a-half years. This once painfully shy boy from the country was transformed to the most active student on campus, inspired by my father’s own fight for social justice.

My father’s story gave me a voice, and so I was committed to give his story the voice that he had been yearning for all these years. The story of the resisters started to be rediscovered on a local, national and even international level. Books, videos and forums would come out. The Florin JACL would honor the local resisters in 1994, and the recognition of this once-shunned group would culminate with the National JACL’s Resisters Reconciliation Ceremony in 2002. We attended event after event together.

Now, dad could no longer say “they don’t know about us guys.”

Through it all, our family was by his side, even traveling to the former federal labor camp he was sentenced to near Tucson, Arizona. It is a testament to my father that his kids truly supported him every step of the way, as he finally received recognition for his gutsy stand some five decades earlier. The uncovering of his story, coupled with the arrival of his first granddaughter Cheryl, helped to peel off layers upon layers of his tough exterior, and truly made him a happy Papa Bear.

His story continues to inspire me.

When the Nichi Bei Times was folding in September of 2009, it took a tremendous will to launch the first nonprofit ethnic newspaper of its kind in the country — especially in the worst of economic times in decades. It took courage and determination that I didn’t even know I had. And while my family and others were supportive of this inspiring community movement, I believe that it was my father’s resistance that gave me the courage to resist the demise of a treasured community institution, and the fight to move forward to give a voice to the voiceless.

My father’s pride and principle, no doubt, will continue to inspire us as the years pass. He will forever be a guiding light as we face adversity. His love of family and his hard work ethic will forever be a part of our fabric, interwoven with the huge generosity and faith that is inherited from our mother.

On March 11, as Japan was losing so much in the devastating earthquake and tsunami, I lost my personal hero. But I’m sure that his spirit will live on in each of us who were touched by him.

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