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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The Misawa community bid farewell Friday morning to Mark Roby, the manager of the popular Cafe Mokuteki.

Roby, 42, died Sunday at a hospital in Hachinohe from complications following open-heart surgery, according to his brother, Gregg Roby.

A memorial service was held Friday morning at the Mokuteki Community Center, where the 24-hour cafe is located and where Roby often was seen working the counter or in the kitchen. Between 150 and 200 people attended the service, Gregg Roby said.

“We always wondered why Mark chose to stay in Misawa without family,” he said. “Now we know why. He had quite an extended family here.”

Gregg Roby and the brothers’ mother, Carol Roby, flew into Misawa last week. They were in town a few weeks ago while Mark was in the intensive-care unit at Hachinohe and unconscious. Mark recently had been improving and was to be medically evacuated to the States for further treatment when he took a turn for the worse, Gregg Roby said.

Before managing Cafe Mokuteki, Roby worked for the 35th Medical Group, according to his family. He retired from the Air Force in August 2005 as a technical sergeant after 20 years of service. Originally from Uniontown, Pa., Roby lived in Misawa for the last eight years, Gregg Roby said.

“Mark had a passion for food service and always provided first-class customer service with a smile … his enthusiasm, creativity and kindness will be greatly missed by the entire Misawa AB community,” 35th Services Squadron commander Maj. Patrick Sollami said in a written statement.

Mark Roby is survived by his mother, two brothers, a sister and a half brother.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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