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Donald "Tabo" Nakahata Passes Away

March 19, 2012

NakahataLongtime UCSF Dentistry Professor Donald “Tabo” Nakahata passed away peacefully on March 15, 2012 in the company of his wife Alice and family, following a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Recalls UCSF Dentistry Dean John D.B. Featherstone: "Dr. Nakahata was a loved and loyal faculty member who taught many students over all the years he was here at UCSF. I got to know him well during my time as chair of the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences. In recent years, when he came in only one day a week, I always knew it was Wednesday because Don was here and he would greet me with his cheery smile."

A native of San Francisco, Dr. Nakahata grew up in the city, later living in Topaz, Utah and Rochester, NY before returning to San Francisco.  He served in the US Army during the Korean War, and practiced general dentistry in San Francisco for almost five decades - first as a sole practitioner, then as a consultant with Delta Dental, and finally as an Associate Professor in clinical dentistry at the UCSF School of Dentristry.  He always practiced dentistry in a "hands on" way, taking time to discuss his patients' issues and concerns. Most importantly, he wanted to teach his students to listen to, "touch", and care for patients. He passed on his chairside wisdom, mentoring his students in more than just dentistry. He was particularly proud of his work with the California Dental Association, creating a Peer Review process to oversee standards of care.

Don also had a lifetime passion for human and civil rights, and social justice. As a young man, he and Alice fought against a California constitutional right to engage in racial and religious discrimination in housing. Having been incarcerated by his own government during World War II, he spoke publicly about these experiences, including in the press, in schools and before the U.S. Commission for Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.  He was also deeply involved in telling the story of Japanese immigration to the Bay Area and California via Angel Island, as detailed in a 2006 San Francisco Chronicle article.

He is survived by his wife Alice, with whom he shared 52 years, sister Beatrice, his sons Andrew (Alison), Peter (Laura) and John (Pam), and grandchildren Eileen, Maura, Dashiel, Paxton, Kevin and Darren. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations in his memory be made to support Christ Episcopal Church (Sei Ko Kai), 2140 Pierce St., San Francisco, CA 94115, or pancreatic cancer research at UCSF. Donations in support of pancreatic cancer research should be made to UCSF with a memo (on the check or an accompanying note) stating "Ko/Nakakura research in memory of Donald Nakahata" and sent to UCSF c/o Sarah Krumholz, 220 Montgomery Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Visitation will be held Friday March 23, 2012 from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Evergreen Mortuary of McAvoy & O'Hara, Geary Blvd. at 10th Ave, S. F., CA. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 1:00 pm at the Christ United Presbyterian Church, 1700 Sutter St., San Francisco. McAvoy & O'Hara: (415) 668-0077.

Adapted from an obituary posted at (link below).


Dr. Donald “Tabo” Nakahata at 2010's UCSF Dentistry/UCSF Dental Alumni Association 114th Scientific Session at UCSF's Parnassus Heights campus (above); with fellow members of the Class of 1960 (below, far left).