February 15, 1928 ~ March 6, 2009
Mataki Nagai, age 81, passed away peacefully at home with his wife Shirley and his daughter Lisa by his side on March 6, 2009 in Rolling Hills Estates.
Mat was born in North Kona, Hawaii on February 15, 1928 to Tajiu and Matagoru Nagai. He was the beloved husband of Shirley for 46 years. He is survived by his wife, daughter Lisa Leeming and son-in-law David Leeming, his older sister Kazue Teshima, and his older brother Mitsuo Nagai.
Despite having heart disease for most of his life, Mat led a full life. Born on a rural coffee farm, he was personally selected by the School Superintendent of the Territory of Hawaii to attend the University of Hawaii, and became a respected aerospace engineer who worked on classified projects.
He served in the Airforce during the Korean War and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant.
He was a quiet, hard-working man with a gentle personality. He and his wife Shirley set down roots in Southern California and were residents of Rolling Hills Estates for 36 years. With their Hawaiian roots, it was only natural that they enjoyed the warm California sunshine and bought a home with a view of the ocean and the channel islands. With his farming background and keen engineer's mind, he studied growing vegetables hydroponically and soon provided the neighborhood with tomatoes, beans and cucumbers using 12 square feet!
His heart condition never slowed him. Through the years, the family traveled throughout the United States and in their retirement, he and Shirley traveled to Japan, Italy, England, Paris, Canada, Alaska and Mexico. Mat also bought a telescope to study astronomy and he scanned the cosmos. He was a big sports fan and loved the LA Lakers.
In accordance with Mataki's wishes, some of his ashes will return home to Hawaii. And as a fitting sendoff for an aerospace engineer, the family will be sending some of his ashes aboard a rocket to give Mat a real spaceflight orbiting the Earth!
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