SPRECKELS, Calif. – Fireworks, skydivers and traditional Taiko drummers greeted Tanimura & Antle board co-chairman George Tanimura at a centennial birthday bash just outside company headquarters.
Mike HornickGeorge Tanimura (seated), poses with his wife, Masaye, and Tonya and Rick Antle, during a birthday celebration for Tanimura on July 5.Following a Japanese custom the Salinas Valley grower-shipper, who turned 99 on July 2, marked the arrival of his 100th year.
A massive tent on Tanimura & Antle’s home ranch accommodated about 600 guests – including former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Congressman Sam Farr, D-Carmel – for a gala dinner July 5.
“We are so humbled to be celebrating the life and legacy of such an incredible man,” said 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 Tanimura & Antle.”
When the time came for Tanimura to speak, he kept it short and expressed his gratitude.
“I don’t say a lot because I’m a lousy speaker anyway,” he said. “But then I was amazed to see I had so many friends, from the Far East all over … I didn’t even realize so many people would come to my party.”
The event had begun with eight skydivers jumping from 8,000 feet above an outdoor reception. They streamed smoke trails and a birthday banner on their approach to an adjacent field.
The Taiko drummers followed. As his wife Masaye looked on, Tanimura struck the final blow to the drums and the guests moved inside.
After the dinner and program, a 15-minute fireworks display brought the celebration to a close.
Patriarch overcomes adversity
He’s often called a patriarch, but the role has origins in his youth. By age 16 both his parents had died, and Tanimura became responsible for the family and its farming. From a ranch house near Aromas, he and his siblings began to prosper.
But they lost everything as most of the family was forced into Japanese internment camps at the start of World War II. Two brothers, though, served in the U.S. Army.
He married Masaye Yamauchi in 1944. Upon release, the Tanimuras saved farming profits until they could begin purchasing land.
In the late 1950s the family began to grow exclusively for Bud Antle. George Tanimura and Bud’s son, Bob Antle, became co-chairmen of the board when Tanimura & Antle was created in 1982.