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George Tanimura celebrates milestone 100th birthday

George Tanimura of Tanimura & Antle celebrated his milestone centennial birthday this weekend. Family, business partners and friends joined together to honor the highly regarded Salinas family farmer and patriarch of the Tanimura family. The event commemorated his extraordinary life journey, including his dedication to the California and Arizona farming industry.

ta111To celebrate the family’s first centenarian, a gala dinner was held at the Tanimura & Antle home ranch. Eight skydivers jumped from 8,000 feet, streaming smoke trails and colorful banners on their way down to greet the event's 600 guests. Taiko drummers entertaind the crowd, and after dinner there was a video tribute, as well as a 15-minute fireworks display.

The centrepieces were created in a contemporary Japanese floral design by Soho Sakai of San Francisco. Guests dined on a colourful produce-focused dinner beautifully presented by McCalls Catering, also of San Francisco.

“We are so humbled to be celebrating the life and legacy of such an incredible man,” stated Mike Antle, senior vice president and partner. “George has been an invaluable mentor to three generations of the Antle family, as well as to countless others at T&A. His generosity with his knowledgeable life experiences will be with us all forever.”

Tanimura has actively participated in farming innovation in the Salinas Valley since the early 1930s. One of his most passionate projects is drip irrigation. He advocated and developed advanced uses of the technology to save water, cut costs and improve farming practices.

His personal pride and joy is the Tres Picos Ranch in Huron, CA, which he enjoys visiting each week during the harvest. "Being on the ranch brings George humble peace and happiness," the company said in a press release.

When asked to reflect on his prior positions of leadership and professional milestones in his life, he simply laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter, I’m just a farmer.”

"As the patriarch of the Tanimura family, everyone personally and professionally looks to George to lead discussion, share wisdom, and ultimately make hard decisions," the release stated. "On any given day you will find George working on the farm or in the office asking the 'young guys' questions. George listens much more than he speaks, but when he speaks, he imparts his wisdom to those lucky enough to hear it."

Tanimura currently serves in many director and officer positions within the Tanimura family companies as well as the Tanimura & Antle companies. Through the years he has served in many leadership positions, including president of the Buddhist Temple of Salinas multiple times, president of the Yamato Cemetery and director for Pacific Ag Rentals.

Tanimura and his wife of 70 years, Masaye, have two children, Glenn Tanimura, his wife Sheila, and Leslie Morishita and her husband Ken. They also have four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Three generations ago, the Tanimura family first immigrated to the United States from Japan. Second-generation Japanese-American George Tanimura was born in San Juan Bautista on July 2, 1915. The eldest of 12 siblings, he attended grammar school in Castroville during the 1920s while also working on his father’s small farm thinning iceberg lettuce.

Several years later his mother died, forcing him to quit high school to farm with his father. In the midst of the Great Depression, while just 16 years old, his father passed away, leaving Tanimura with the responsibility for the family and its farm. He and his brothers and sisters moved to a ranch house near Aromas, CA. As a teenage patriarch, he was forced to guide the family through numerous historical and economic challenges.

Under his brave leadership, the Tanimura children began their own farming operations.

The Tanimura family business prospered. However, in December 1941 people of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps. George and most of the Tanimura family were interned while two brothers joined the United States Army.

During the time in the camp, the Tanimura family lost everything. However, George found Masaye Yamauchi and they were married on Sept. 21, 1944. Upon release, the Tanimura family farmed small patches of land, saved the profits and ultimately purchased their first acre of land, restarting the Tanimura’s trek toward the American Dream.

In the late 1950s, the Tanimura’s began to grow exclusively for Bud Antle. Bud, and his son Bob Antle, began working closely with the Tanimura family. A great partnership began when the Antle’s strong packing and shipping expertise was joined with the Tanimura’s hard-working spirit and growing knowledge of the market.

George Tanimura and Bob Antle became the co-chairmen of the board when the partnership formalized in 1982 when the Tanimura and Antle families combined over 50 years of mutual friendship, respect and experience to create Tanimura & Antle.