HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -The Chairman and C.E.O. of KTA Super Stores, Barry Taniguchi, has died. According to the company, the 72-year-old died of cardiac arrest on Oahu Friday night.
A visitation is set for Friday, Oct. 18 from 8 - 11 a.m., at Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, 398 Kilauea Avenue.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. with lunch to follow at the Sangha Hall.
His son, Toby, says says he always looked up to his dad and considered him one of his heroes and best friends in recent years.
“He was one that really said what he meant, and meant what he said and was more than willing to roll up his sleeves and jump in and get involved to help make our community a better place for everyone," Toby Taniguchi said. “He had a tremendous amount of compassion for people, he was extremely generous.”
That passion was seen by many on the Big Island. Aside from his duties at the island’s iconic grocery store chain, Taniguchi was a philanthropist and was dedicated to many community causes.
Among his numerous roles, Taniguchi was President of the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts; served on the Board of Directors of the Hilo High School Foundation; and served those less fortunate through the Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank.
Taniguchi’s son said he had a deep connection to his hometown.
"I just know that he has a tremendous amount of love and aloha for this place that he was born and this place that he grew up, and this place that he was living here on Hawaii Island.”
The University of Hawaii expressed its gratitude for his support of astronomy on Hawaii Island, calling him a driving force behind UH Hilo’s Mauna Kea Management Board, since its formation.
“He always looked forward and the entire UH ohana will be forever grateful for the leadership, vision and steadfast support he invested in making a better Hawaii for all,” UH President David Lassner said in a statement.
Over the weekend, tributes poured in to remember the Big Island businessman.
KTA Executive Vice President Derek Kurisu told Hawaii News Now that the company “lost a great leader.”
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz issued a statement that said, "Barry Taniguchi was a brilliant problem solver and man of action. He was a model businessman and citizen who gave himself fully to the betterment of the Big Island and the State of Hawaii.”
State Senator Kai Kahele says Taniguchi will be sorely missed and that his impact will be felt for a long time.
“He had that slogan ‘You’re someone special everyday at KTA’. And that was Barry Taniguchi. He treated everybody like he was your best friend. If you ran into him in the store, you would never know he was the president and C.E.O. of KTA Super Stores,” Kahele recalled.
Taniguchi’s family company spans generations. It was started by his grandparents Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi. His son, Toby, serves as president and chief operating officer of the company.
His family says they are grateful for the outpouring of support.
“It’s comforting to know that we have so many friends and dad had so many friends out in the community that cared for him and cared for the person that he is, and we appreciate that," Toby said.