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"John" Kaichiro and Tome Nakayama Professorship

Family tradition Inspires gift

"John" Kaichiro Nakayama, a former Samurai warrior, emigrated from Japan to the U.S. in 1905. He lived first in Kansas City and worked in a meat packing plant. The abrasive atmosphere of the packing plant led Nakayama to seek employment elsewhere.

He moved to Nebraska where he worked with a farmer of Swedish descent raising sugar beets and cattle. Nakayama's wife Tome (whom he first met in Japan) came to this country in 1915 and they subsequently married.

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The cold winters took a toll on one of Nakayma's feet that had been severely frost bitten, forcing him to seek a warmer climate. The family was headed to Mexico but stopped in El Paso to wait for their second child to be born. While there, they learned about a parcel of land outside Las Cruces that was available. They leased this land which was a part of the old Shalem Colony settlement. Nakayama adapted the farming skills he acquired in Nebraska to the demands of the New Mexico climate.

The family grew to include five sons and three daughters. In the summer everyone had a job on the farm.

According to Joe, his father told the children that he would not have a lot to leave them when he died but he would be sure they all had a chance for an education. All eight took their father's promise to heart, with seven attending NMSU for all or part of their education.

Joe completed his studies in agricultural engineering on the GI Bill after WWII. When there were no jobs to be found following his graduation in 1951, he accepted his brother Carl's invitation to join him on the family farm.

The values that his parents instilled in him inspired Joe Nakayama (now retired) to establish two research professorships at New Mexico State University in their names to benefit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the College of Engineering.