Takako Grace Sato Salvi

Trailblazing Black Nurse, Family Advocate

Takako “Taka” Sato (1919-2020) was born in Cambridge to Takayuki Sato of Japan and his Cambridge wife, Grace (Woods). Taka grew up at 194 Franklin Street, the home of her maternal grandparents, Peter Woods of St. Croix and Virginia (Welford) of Virginia, who had come to the city in the early 1880s. She attended the Webster School and Cambridge High and Latin, then applied to Cambridge City Hospital’s School of Nursing. When she was denied entrance because of her race, her mother marched into the administrator’s office and insisted that, as she was a taxpayer in the city, her daughter had a right to be admitted: Takako became the school’s first Black student.

She graduated in 1941 and worked at numerous hospitals, including Cambridge City, Boston City, Massachusetts General, and Mount Auburn; early in her career, she was a head nurse at Boston Floating Hospital. Taka’s career was long and varied: she was a nurse, a nursery schoolteacher, and a family counselor. She continued her education, earning a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., and pursued post-doctoral training with MIT’s Community Fellows Program.

In 1944 Taka married Diwakar Salvi, who had come to this country from India as a student, and together they raised Chandra, Shantu, and Saru. Taka was active in the National Black Nurses Association, on the board of Boston’s Museum of African American History, and a founder of the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail. Takako Salvi is buried with her husband at Cambridge Cemetery.

Cambridge City Hospital Training School