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Original Tanimura & Antle partner John Tanimura has died

by Brian Gaylord | May 04, 2009
John Tanimura, a first-generation member of the Tanimura family that began a farming relationship with Bud Antle and his family in 1948, died in his sleep April 27 in Salinas, CA. He was 88 years old.

For a short period in the mid-1960s, Mr. Tanimura and his four brothers, George, Charles, Tom and Robert, joined in a partnership with George Higashi and Shiro Higashi to form H&T Packing. The Tanimura family continued farming during all those years with the Antle family; in 1982 this relationship culminated in the formation of Tanimura & Antle, now Tanimura & Antle Inc. T&A is a leading family farming enterprise in the Salinas Valley.

John Tanimura and his brothers often were seen traveling their ranches together in their white pickup truck. For John Tanimura, T&A was far more than a business -- it was a way of life.

John "worked every day, looked at the crop," said his daughter Jeannie Tanimura, who works as an information technology analyst for T&A. She is joined by four other second-generation Tanimuras working in the family business; first-generation Tanimura brothers George, 93, and Tom, 81, are still involved in the family business.

Jeannie Tanimura quipped to The Produce News that the first-generation brothers "still tell the 'kids' (second-generation Tanimuras) how to run the business." She said that her father always deflected praise for his accomplishments and would instead give credit to the Antle family.

John Tanimura was born Nov. 21, 1920, in San Juan Bautista, CA, to Eijiro Kimoto and Yukino Tanimura, the sixth of 13 children. He graduated from Salinas High School and spent his boyhood working with his brothers, learning sustainable farming. He and members of his family were removed from their farms and interned in Poston, AZ, during World War II.

Following the war, John Tanimura joined his brothers and sister in rebuilding their lives, beginning with harvesting jobs in Gilroy, CA. Eventually, John Tanimura and his brothers and their families created their own successful farming enterprise.

John Tanimura is survived by his wife, Sakako (Sachi); daughters Jeannie Tanimura, Susan Tanimura and June Tanimura; grandchildren Brian Cobb and Jennifer Caro; great-grandchildren Desiree Caro and Mateo Caro, Draven Cobb, Jake Esqueda and MacKenzie Wright; his brothers and sisters-in-law, George and Masaye Tanimura, and Tommy and Hisako Tanimura; his sister- in-law Fumiko Tanimura, wife of his late brother Charles; and sisters Alice Sato, Rose Yuki and Betty Furusho. His sister Chisato and brothers Charles and Robert predeceased him. John Tanimura also is survived by his nephews and nieces Gary Tanimura, Keith Tanimura, Glenn Tanimura, Bonnie Yokota, Leslie Morishita, Carole Nakamura, Ann Murano, Cathy Yuki and JoAnn Yuki.

A viewing for John Tanimura was set for May 8 at Struve & Laporte Funeral Home in Salinas; a funeral/memorial service was set for May 9 at the Buddhist Temple of Salinas. The Tanimura family has noted that anyone wishing to honor John Tanimura with a contribution may do so in his name to the Buddhist Temple of Salinas or the Heartland Hospice.