Educator, Japan scholar and trailblazer Joyce Chapman Lebra passed away on Oct. 10 in Boulder, Colorado, still wearing the Order of the Rising Sun medal and ribbon she had received in a ceremony a month prior. She was 95.

“She wore that award every single day after she received it,” her longtime friend David Wagner tells The Japan Times. “It meant a tremendous amount to her, a long overdue recognition.”

The conferring of state honors upon Lebra by the government of Japan on Aug. 27 was the culmination of a lifetime spent carving out her own path as a woman in a male-dominated field, one that saw her give voice to women in Asia through her writing and scholarly pursuits.