HON. JOE BACA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2012
Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask Congress to pay tribute to a committed community advocate, Kaya Tuncer. Kaya, an experienced Turkish-American entrepreneur and philanthropist from California, passed away on January 7, 2012, at the age of seventy-four.
Kaya was born and raised in Turkey, moving to the United States at age 19 with only 80 dollars in his pocket. He put himself through college, first at Santa Ana College, then gaining a degree in civil engineering from University of California Berkley and an MBA from University of Southern California. Kaya's strong determination to succeed in the United States paid off. Kaya continued to live in the Los Angeles area for 49 years.
Kaya began his successful business career as founder and chairman of the ESBAS Company, which was responsible for developing and operating the largest industrial park in Turkey, called the Aegean Free Zone. Kaya was a strong supporter of Turkish-American relations and devoted his life to creating a cultural understanding between peoples from both nations.
His success as a businessman propelled him to give back to his home country of Turkey by inaugurating Space Camp Turkey in June of 2000. Kaya also created a foundation called Global Friendship through Space Education. Kaya's generosity allowed 150 students and teachers to attend National Space Camp Week each year. Since Kaya began the foundation, over 5,300 students from 27 countries have been awarded scholarships. Kaya's foundation shows his dedication to improving the lives young adults by expanding their experience and understanding of science.
Today, the Global Friendship through Education foundation has developed a yearlong educational program to connect students and teachers in America with their counterparts in Turkey. This program has helped to create friendships as well as foster cultural understanding. Due to his tireless philanthropic efforts, Kaya was awarded the “Advancement of Education in Turkey Award'' in 2002 by the Turkish-American Scientists in Washington DC as well as the ``Turkish-American of the Year'' in 2003.
Kaya is survived by his wife, Mary Mills Tuncer, his two daughters; Deniz and Ayshe; as well as two granddaughters. He leaves with cherished memories of a loving family. My thoughts and prayers, along with those of my wife, Barbara, and my children, Councilman Joe Baca Jr., Jeremy, Natalie, and Jennifer are with Kaya's family at this time. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me today in honoring a beloved community member and tireless advocate, Kaya Tuncer.
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