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CEO led Hawaii grocery chain KTA Super Stores

  • STAR ADVERTISER / 2016
                                Barry Taniguchi, CEO of KTA Super Stores on Hawaii island, died Friday at age 72. Taniguchi, right, and son Toby stand next to the locally grown produce at the Puainako KTA store in Hilo.

    STAR ADVERTISER / 2016

    Barry Taniguchi, CEO of KTA Super Stores on Hawaii island, died Friday at age 72. Taniguchi, right, and son Toby stand next to the locally grown produce at the Puainako KTA store in Hilo.

A longtime leader of the more than century-old kamaaina family supermarket chain KTA Super Stores on Hawaii island has died.

Barry Taniguchi, chairman and CEO of the seven-store chain, died Friday from complications of a sudden medical issue.

He was 72.

Taniguchi represented the third generation leading the family business and is also remembered for being a champion of local community causes, including education and a homegrown food supply.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz expressed condolences over the loss of someone he described as a model businessman and citizen.

“Barry Taniguchi was a brilliant problem solver and man of action,” Schatz said in a statement. “We will greatly miss his intellect, his gentleman’s style, and his determination to always do the right thing.”

The University of Hawaii issued a statement praising Taniguchi for contributions that included scholarships, support for Hawaii Community College in Hilo and the first permanent faculty endowments for UH Hilo.

“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 the statement. “Barry Taniguchi truly exemplified what community means and will be sorely missed.”

Taniguchi was the grandson of KTA founders Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi, who opened a 500-square-foot grocery and dry goods store in 1916 serving Hilo families with some goods delivered via bicycle.

Barry Taniguchi was born in Hilo and attended UH in Hilo and Manoa. After earning a business administration degree with an emphasis in accounting, he worked as an accountant at companies that included CPA firm Haskins & Sells, National Car Rental and Realty Investment Co. before joining the family business in 1983.

In 1989 Taniguchi succeeded his uncle, Tony, as CEO of KTA and led the growing chain for three decades. One of his sons, Toby, is president and chief operating officer.

Under Taniguchi’s leadership, KTA created the private-label Mountain Apple brand in 1994 to promote food products grown or made in Hawaii. More than 50 vendors today supply more than 200 Mountain Apple products to KTA stores.

Toby Taniguchi said his father had an affinity for fairness, compassion, community service and hard work.

“He valued rolling up your sleeves and being part of the solution,” he said. “I really looked up to him.”

Survivors of Barry Taniguchi include wife Sandra and children Toby, Tracy, Terri, Amanda and Ryan. The family expressed gratitude for what has been an outpouring of support and well wishes over their loss.

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