- Dr. Kenneth K. Inada (1923–2011)
Dr. Kenneth K. Inada, 87, of Buffalo, NY, Henderson, NV, and Honolulu died on March 26, 2011. Born and raised in Honolulu, he graduated from Farrington High School and went on to receive a B.A. from the University of Hawaii, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and encouraged by the famous Zen scholar, Dr. D. T. Suzuki, he went to Japan where he studied Asian Buddhism at the University of Tokyo (Todai), receiving a Ph.D. in 1960. He was the first U.S. citizen to receive a doctorate from Todai. After serving ten years on the faculty of the Philosophy Department at the University of Hawaii, he was recruited by the Department of Philosophy at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in 1969, where he remained for the next 28 years, before retiring in 1997 at the rank of SUNY Distinguished Service Professor.
A prolific scholar with numerous publications, Professor Inada was internationally recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field of Buddhism and East-West comparative philosophy. In 1990 he was the second American in 150 years to receive the Cultural Award from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Buddhism. The author, editor and translator of numerous books, book chapters, and journal articles, he is noted, in particular, for his distinguished translation and commentary on Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika, a seminal work in Western studies of that great Buddhist thinker.
As a long serving editor of the SUNY Press Buddhist Studies Series, Inada oversaw the publication of some 30 critically acclaimed volumes. Professor Inada was instrumental in turning SUNY Press into the largest, most successful publisher of philosophy books in North America. His distinction on a global scale is underscored by his election as president of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy in 1990; he was the first non-Chinese to be elected to this prestigious society. He also served as president of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy.
At the University at Buffalo Professor Inada is remembered as a kind and gifted teacher and an exemplanry university citizen. He served for many years as a member of the University Council on International Studies and Programs, and was one of the principal organizers of the Asian Studies Program and the Japanese Language and Culture Program. He was a mentor to many junior faculty and graduate students in philosophy and Asian Studies.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1943–45 and was wounded in action in France. He served as a member of the famous 442 Infantry Battalion which was deployed to Europe and where he participated in the famous rescue operations of the Lost Battalion consisting mostly of soldiers from Texas. Some 65 years later he was invited to Houston to attend an appreciation gathering organized by the survivors of the Lost Battalion where he was honored as a special guest.
He is survived by his devoted wife, Masako and his son, Ernest. [End Page 407]