LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Dr. Naoko Takemaru was an Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at UNLV — and one of three killed by a gunman on campus Wednesday.

“I still cannot accept that she’s not with us anymore, and that I’m never going to see her again next door. It hasn’t been easy. We haven’t stopped crying for her since Thursday when we found out,” said her neighbor and friend April Reyes.

“She was sweet. She was knowledgeable, very smart, soft-spoken, her little voice, and she was very well-spoken. Once you got to know her, you found out that she actually was witty and had a cool sense of humor,“ she said.

Dr. Takemaru won the William Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Liberal Arts at UNLV, but it was her caring spirit that won over her students and friends.

“She was a grandmother. She loved all of us, and as students, we were afraid of disappointing her if we got an answer wrong or we didn’t do our homework right, she’d be like, ‘Oh, next time,’” said Dr. Takemaru’s student Ricardo Rodriguez. “She always cared about how we were doing as students.”

“She gave me a hug when we were done. The strongest hug. She hugged me so strong that I felt special, but that was the last hug that I ever got,“ said friend and neighbor Mario Reyes.

“I don’t like talking about her in past tense because I really can’t accept that she’s not with us anymore,” said April. “The whole world’s going to miss out on having Naoko. The world needs more Naokos.“


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