John Tsukasa Tanimura, a co-founder of Tanimura & Antle, died in Salinas, Calif., on April 27. He was 88.
The Tanimura family's growing legacy started before World War II, said John Inman, a retired agricultural engineer with the local University of California Cooperative Extension, after which the family became the exclusive growers for Bud Antle, with whose family the Tanimuras would found Tanimura & Antle in 1982.
"John was a low-profile guy," Inman said.
It was during the war that Tanimura and his family were removed from their farms and interned in Poston, Ariz., with other Japanese-American families, according to an obituary released by the company.
Inman, a retired agricultural engineer with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service in Salinas, said his relationship with the Tanimura family goes back 30 years. He said John Tanimura was a dedicated grower who preferred spending more time in the field than in his office, always checking to ensure the family's crops were of the highest quality.
The Tanimura family has long been known for their innovative marketing campaigns and early use of vacuum cooling, Inman said.
Jeannie Tanimura, John Tanimura's daughter, said her father was a lifelong grower whose unostentatious style and friendliness are what most people remember about him.
"He wore a suit very rarely," Jeannie Tanimura said.
Chris Bunn, owner of Crown Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, said the Tanimura family helped get his business started in the 1970s, loaning farm equipment for free and offering advice.
"They are all wonderful brothers," he said. "I put them all in same category."
It's that innovation Jeannie Tanimura said she hopes her father, and her family, are remembered for by the industry.
"He was out there on the ranch all the time," Jeannie Tanimura said.
John Tanimura was born in San Juan Bautista, Calif., the sixth of thirteen children.
He is survived by his wife Sakako, daughters Jeannie, Susan, and June Tanimura, grandchildren Brian Cobb and Jennifer Caro; great-grandchildren Desiree and Mateo Caro, Draven Cobb, Jake Esqueda and MacKenzie Wright, according to the company.