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Giumarra mourns death of retired executive

by press release | March 31, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- The Giumarra Cos. has announced that Taro (Tommy) Uchizono died Tuesday, March 22, in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

Mr. Uchizono was born March 22, 1922, and was a very well-known and respected figure within the North American produce industry.

Mr. Uchizono was a veteran of World War II, during which he was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team fighting in Italy. After the war, he returned to Los Angeles and joined the produce industry. He was a founder of Bear Produce and Metro Produce, and also worked with Child Brothers.

At the beginning of his produce career, he was largely involved in the vegetable industry. However, in the early 1960s, he met with Don Jost, and together they approached Don Corsaro of Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. to market stone fruit out of the San Joaquin Valley. Messrs. Corsaro, Uchizono and Jost founded and developed the well-known "LTD" stone fruit label, and they were among the very early people in the industry to market truly tree-ripened fruit.

"We were driving along the valley one day and were discussing what we were going to call the fruit. We had a contest. I came up with LTD, and it stuck," Mr. Corsaro, president of The Giumarra Cos., said in a March 30 press release.

Mr. Corsaro went on to say that Mr. Uchizono had been both his partner and his mentor.

"He didn't want to travel, but I did not mind," Mr. Corsaro said in the release. "Together, Tommy and I opened Giumarra's Nogales and Escondido offices in the 1970s. His character and reputation helped build the company. He did not ever say much, but when he did, everyone listened. He was a very kind and generous man."

Mr. Uchizono retired from Giumarra in 2001. His son, Craig Uchizono, works with the Giumarra Cos. as vice president of the Southern Hemisphere.

There will be a service for Mr. Uchizono at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 3. The service will take place at Wintersburg Presbyterian Church, located at 2000 N. Fairview St. in Santa Ana, CA.