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WWII vet dies shortly after casting final vote

From Deanna Proeller, CNN
updated 9:47 AM EDT, Mon October 29, 2012
Frank Tanabe's daughter, Barbara, sat at his bedside and read aloud the candidates and issues.
Frank Tanabe's daughter, Barbara, sat at his bedside and read aloud the candidates and issues.
  • A photo of Frank Tanabe voting went viral online
  • The 93-year-old, who had been battling liver cancer, died Wednesday
  • Days before, his daughter sat at his bedside and helped him vote

(CNN) -- Days after a photo of him casting his final presidential vote captured the hearts of thousands and went viral online, World War II veteran Frank Tanabe died Wednesday.

A week ago, the terminally ill 93-year-old's absentee ballot arrived in the mail.

Tanabe had been in the final stages of inoperable liver cancer and was at home in Honolulu receiving hospice care. But he had never missed a presidential election, and he wasn't about to let his illness deter him from voting this time around, his daughters said.

After his absentee ballot arrived, his daughter, Barbara, sat at his bedside and read aloud the candidates and issues.

"I helped him. He either nodded 'yes' or shook his head 'no,' " Barbara told CNN earlier this week. "He didn't always vote for my candidate."

Nonetheless, she said she followed his directions and mailed in the completed form.

Irene, Frank's other daughter, knew that she was witnessing a rare moment and snapped a picture of the event. She first posted it on Facebook, then her 26-year-old son, Noah, lifted it and posted it on the link sharing site Reddit. From there, it went viral.

Barbara said she told her dad about all of the Internet "buzz" and was sure he was "thrilled about it"

He was "very patriotic, very proud," she said, adding that her father instilled a similar sense of appreciation to his children.

In 2010, he was among a group of Japanese-Americans who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal as part of the Military Intelligence Service Unit during World War II.

Originally from the Seattle area, Tanabe enrolled at the University of Washington during World War II but was forced to drop out when he and the rest of his family were placed in internment camps for the Japanese in the U.S. From there, Tanabe volunteered for the U.S. Army, knowing that Japanese-English translators were in need. His family members remained in the camp while he served.

"He always told us it was very important to vote, because he saw his comrades in arms fight and die for American rights," Barbara said.

Among those, she added, was the right to vote.

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