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End of an Era

Takako Grace Salvi departed this world peacefully on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 surrounded by her loving family.

Takako, better known as Taka or Dani to her family and close friends, was born on May 16, 1919 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Grace Woods Sato and Takayuki Sato.  As a third-generation Cantabrigian, she graduated from Cambridge High and Latin School, and was the first Black nursing student at the Cambridge City Hospital.  Taka continued her educational pursuits by earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary-Early Childhood Education, a Master’s Degree in Counseling Education and Community Psychology, and a PhD in Applied Child Development; and graduating from the MIT Community Fellows Program.  Taka went on to work with and consult for numerous children-centric and community-based organizations in the area, including Lesley Ellis School, Boston’s Floating Hospital for Children (head nurse), and Boston University’s Consultation and Education Program.  She also served as a long-term Board Member at the Museum of African American History, and was a founding member of the Cambridge African American Heritage Alliance.

In 1944, Taka wed Diwaker S. Salvi, lovingly known as Sal and Baba (who passed away in February 1986).  They were married for over 40 years, and together raised three children, Chandra, Shantu (who passed away in July 1997), and Saru.  She enjoyed many personal interests and hobbies, including reading suspense thrillers, crafting pottery, spending long, sun-drenched days on the beach, and traveling with her sisters.

Taka leaves behind to share her memory two daughters, Chandra and Saru; son-in-law Michael Joseph and daughter-in-law Mary Salvi; sister Sadako; grandchildren Kafi, Wess, Shantu, Kamala, and Tanika; step-grandchildren Michelle and Stephanie, and 16 great grandchildren.  She also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, and cousins from her Welford-Woods extended family.

Taka was an amazing matriarch and role model for her family.  She taught them the importance of education, cultural heritage, and family.  She instilled in them the belief that they could reach the moon, no matter what the rest of the world told them.  She was pioneering, tenacious, steadfast, and a life-long learner.  While her educational accomplishments are astounding, what is most extraordinary is how she positively influenced every life she touched.  She will be greatly missed.

Services for Taka will be held Thursday, January 7, 2021 at A.J. Spears Funeral Home at 126 Western Avenue in Cambridge, MA.  A walk-thru viewing will be held from 10:00-11:00 am, followed by a live-streamed virtual program.  Please refer to the A.J. Spears Funeral Home website for additional information (

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations in memory of Takako G. Salvi to the Cambridge African American Heritage Alliance.  Please make checks payable to the Cambridge Historical Society with a note on the memo line that reads “Cambridge African American Heritage Alliance”.  Send checks to The Cambridge Historical Society at 159 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.