The Japanese American National Museum on Friday issued the following statement about Professor Emeritus Lloyd Inui of CSU Long Beach, who passed away peacefully at home on the evening of Sept. 28.
The Japanese American National Museum is deeply saddened by the passing of Professor Lloyd Inui, who dedicated his retirement to volunteering at the museum. He served as a volunteer curator and key advisor on Asian American history.
Inui, 91, is remembered as an inspiring mentor, teacher and early pioneer in university-based Asian American studies. He helped establish the Asian and Asian American Studies program at Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB), and was named professor emeritus in 1992.
“Lloyd was a revered expert advisor to JANM. His scholarly contribution was felt across departments and his influence on staff members was profound,” said Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM. “When you walk through the galleries today, Lloyd’s influence is palpable. We are forever grateful for his extraordinary service, which he gave so generously. We send our deepest appreciation and condolences to his family.”
A Long Beach resident, Inui brought a scholarly, and personal, expertise to JANM. His Utah childhood, incarceration at Wyoming’s Heart Mountain camp, Korean War military service, and studies at the University of Michigan and CSULB all informed his vast knowledge base.
“Every exhibit we worked on, he was the moral compass,” said Dr. Emily Anderson, a JANM project curator. “He would say, ‘This direction is important to the story.’ He was the anchor we could rely on to keep us in the right direction.”
With a coffee cup always in hand, Inui was a frequent advisor on curatorial and collections decisions, National Park Service grants, Discover Nikkei, International Nikkei Research Project and education programs, staff recalled.
“Conversation was always easy – whether it was the redress movement for Japanese Americans, or the latest Lakers score,” said John Esaki, JANM senior philanthropy officer.
After retirement, Inui would ride the Blue Line from Long Beach to Downtown to reach JANM. When he stepped in as volunteer interim curator in 2000, he did so with his trademark enthusiastic, yet humble, style. He was at the museum so frequently, staff considered him a member of the team.
Inui is survived by his children Jeffrey and Margaret, and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Tazuko.
There are no immediate plans for services. The family requests that people refrain from sending flowers. In lieu of koden, the family encourages people to make a donation in his honor to JANM or to Asian American Studies, CSULB.