Lloyd Inui, professor emeritus at CSU Long Beach, where he helped establish the Asian American Studies Program, passed away on Sept. 28 at the age of 91. In retirement, he was an advisor to many campus and community organizations. Following are remembrances from some of his friends and colleagues.

Lloyd Inui in his office at Cal State Long Beach in 1972. (Photo by Takashi Fujii)

Iku Kiriyama: Lloyd was a charter member of the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California, established in 1978. He served many terms as president on the rotation list of six presidents. When the JAHSSC dissolved in 2015, Lloyd was the only one of the original members to stay to the end with me on the board.

I was grateful and appreciative of his constant friendship and support, in spite of his health issues. I could always look to him for sound guidance and remained friends with him and Tazuko, enjoying their company and conversation. They are both terribly missed.

Kiriyama is a community volunteer and retired Los Angeles Unified School District educator.

Dan Kuramoto: I loved Lloyd, as we all did. In retrospect, Lloyd’s contribution is what he “didn’t do.” He supported the beginnings of Asian American Studies and student center at Long Beach by giving his unconditional support to us as we tried to create Studies. He was always smiling and listening but most of all, present. 

He was always WITH us. His demeanor led us. His patience taught us. He connected the campus and the community. Lloyd is Long Beach to me.

Kuramoto is the leader of the band Hiroshima and a former Asian American studies instructor at CSULB.

Carrie Morita: I first met Lloyd Inui as a student at Long Beach State College (as it was known back in the late ’60s). It was at a time when sit-ins and protests against the Vietnam War were taking place. And The Beach was no exception.

The university had provided the Black Student Union and the Chicano Students with a trailer to be used as a center and lounge. Some of us, primarily Sansei, felt we needed a trailer also. The administration ignored our request, saying we needed a faculty member as an advisor.

Starting from the top of the faculty list, we came across Inui … Evelyn Yoshimura, Dan Kuramoto, and myself decided to approach Lloyd. I recall Ev and me climbing the stairs to the second floor of the Poli Sci building. Lloyd’s office was right at the top of the stairs and his door was open. There he sat. We walked in and presented our request.

As I recall, in his affable way he responded with “Sure! Not a problem!!”

And the rest is history!!! It is this great memory that I have of my first encounter with Lloyd. It was at one of the reunions … perhaps a Thanksgiving potluck that Ev and I returned to and I remember a rap I wrote for Lloyd. I need to find the entire rap. The one line that always remains with me (in regards to us going to the administration and demanding Asian American Studies) is … “When the administration said phooey, that’s when we turned to Lloyd Inui!”

When he started working at the Japanese American National Museum, I was thrilled to see him as I was now spending a lot of time in Little Tokyo.

Morita, a retired teacher, is active with Nikkei Progressives and organizes self-defense classes for seniors at Terasaki Budokan.

Barbara Kim: I first met Lloyd when he served on my hiring committee in 2000-2001 — almost 10 years after his retirement. Even so, Lloyd took the time to mentor and advise me. He was the most enthusiastic supporter of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies. He graciously made time and always said yes to speaking with the next generation of students.

Lloyd Inui and Iku Kiriyama at the final luncheon of the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California, held in 2016 at the Gardena Valley Japanee Cultural Institute. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

He attended annual department spring receptions, sometimes to meet the recipient of the Lloyd Inui Prize (for outstanding contributions to the creation of a campus environment that supports cultural, ethnic and racial diversity, and fostering a sense of unity at CSULB).

One year, he and Alan Nishio led the Asian American Studies majors and minors on a political tour of Little Tokyo, introducing a new generation of CSULB students to the histories, struggles, and community making of the place.

The Ethnic Studies departments invited him to speak on campus on the history, the state of, and the advancement of ethnic studies at CSULB and the CSU, especially in the last decade in opposition to budget cuts and in demand of an ethnic studies graduation requirement. It always struck me how in these symposia, Lloyd always championed and centered the students in these discussions, never himself.

He was kind, brilliant, humble, and fierce. For generations, he was the heartbeat of Asian and Asian American Studies at CSULB, the person who encouraged and shaped students who helped serve and transform the campus and the community.

A beloved teacher, scholar, activist, and mentor extraordinaire, Lloyd will be deeply missed.

Kim is professor, chair, and undergraduate/graduate advisor, Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, CSULB.

Franklin Odo: Lloyd Inui’s presence was the major reason I elected to begin teaching at California State University Long Beach in fall 1972. For six years Lloyd was a solid friend and mentor to me as a junior faculty member and, as I watched and learned, to other colleagues on campus and to hundreds of undergraduates who came through our program.

Many of them went on to build careers and lives of commitment to concerns of Asian American communities and all peoples in the nation and across the globe; much of this transformation due to observing Lloyd Inui’s consistency in work and vision.

Unsung hero. We will miss him.

Odo has served as the director of the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution since the program’s inception in 1997.

Chris Aihara: Lloyd Inui was my mentor and my dear friend. I worked for him as the department secretary of Asian American Studies/Asian Languages for four years. It was like four years of being in the Inui Seminar. 

He projected a certain modesty and self-effacement that belied a very strategic and complex mind. He was very successful in building the Asian American Studies Program at CSULB to a stable and well-respected program. At the same time, he was very focused on the students and helping them to see their lives in a broader context. 

The studies office was a place to drop by, get assistance, and engage in conversation with Lloyd, often thought-provoking and challenging. The personal impact he had on so many students would fill volumes, and we would all agree that he helped make us into better people. 

Aihara is former executive director of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Alan Nishio: Lloyd was the Godfather of Asian American Studies at Cal State Long Beach and served as a teacher, mentor, and friend to generations of students, faculty, and staff, myself included. Over the 50 years that I knew Lloyd I found him to be a scholar who helped advance the field of Asian American studies during its infancy. He touched the lives of so many of us through his thoughtful and self-effacing demeanor, his strong support for students, and the warmth that he showed to all.  

Nishio is former associate vice president of the Division of Student Service at CSULB and a longtime leader in Japanese American community organizations, including National Coalition for Redress/Reparations (now Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress) and Little Tokyo Service Center.

Diana Keiko Ono: Lloyd always had a warm smile and welcomed everyone who stopped into CSULB’s Asian American Student Association office. He made us all feel like a family. He supported “Echoes from Gold Mountain” (an Asian American literary journal) and our annual Thanksgiving potlucks at Harbor Japanese Community Center. He was our mentor, advisor and friend. 

From right: Lloyd Inui with Yoko Pusavat, former Japanese instructor, and Jeanette Schelin of the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at the Asian American Studies Reunion, held in the garden in 2015. Inui and Pusavat were honorees. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Even after retiring he volunteered at JANM, Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden and many other community organizations.

A life well-lived will be remembered by all! We’ll miss you, Lloyd.

Ono is a 1979 graduate of CSULB and is an active member of Orange County Buddhist Church.

Sue Oda Omori: Lloyd was the “anchor” of Asian American Studies. Always a level-headed, steady force that made you feel everything was all right.

My fondest memory of Lloyd was on the softball field. We had a Long Beach Asian American Studies team that used to play in the Unity Softball Tournament in the early ’80s with teams from community-based organizations around L.A. like Visual Communications, Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Omai Fatasi, Chinatown Teen Post, etc. Lloyd was our clean-up batter because he had the biggest, smoothest swing!

He was an anchor of sorts on and off the softball field!

Omori worked many years in higher education and now designs and creates jewelry and pottery.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *