HONOLULU - Many are mourning the loss of a major community leader. Barry Taniguchi, the CEO and board chair of KTA Super Stores on the Big Island, died on Friday of what his family termed "medical complications." He was 72. His son Toby Taniguchi says his father checked into Queens Medical Center for "a heart event."
 
The elder Taniguchi was born and raised in Hilo, graduated from UH Manoa wtih an accounting degree, and worked as a certified professional accountant until returning to KTA in 1983, the store his grandfather founded in 1916.
 
Taniguchi dedicated his life to giving back to the community. Toby says his dad was involved in a dozens of charities, professional groups, and community groups. Most recently, Taniguchi co-founded and chaired Community First, a charity focused on well-being. He also co-founded Hawaii Food Basket, Hawaii Island's food bank. These are just a couple of the many ways Taniguchi served his community.
 
"His passing leaves a big hole in that area. He was always looking for ways to improve our community in ways to do better and get stronger. He wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and get involved," reflects Toby. Barry Taniguchi is survived by his wife, five children, seven grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
 
The University of Hawaii, which is Taniguchi's Alma Mater called him a true giant and pillar of the community. It issued a statement:
 
"The successful leader of KTA Superstores, a thriving Hawaii Island institution, Barry cared deeply for his community and the entire state of Hawaii.  He was passionate about giving back and showed it through decades of dedication and service to numerous community organizations, for which he was widely recognized.


"Barry was a strong supporter of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii Community College and the entire university system to which he provided farsighted contributions of time, talent and resources. He established the Taniguchi Memorial Fund in memory of his grandparents who founded KTA, and he endowed UH Hilo’s first permanent faculty endowments to help the campus attract and retain the best teachers and scholars.  Demonstrating his aloha for youth programs and for athletics, this year, KTA launched its Score for Scholarships program to benefit UH Hilo student athletes.

"Barry was a strong believer in and proponent of astronomy on Hawaii Island and a driving force behind UH Hilo’s Mauna Kea Management Board since its formation in 2000.

UH President David Lassner expressed, 'Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and to all who were touched by his wisdom, his service, his generosity and his kind heart. 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.  Barry Taniguchi truly exemplified what community means and will be sorely missed.'"

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz 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. My thoughts are with the Taniguchi family during this difficult time. We will greatly miss his intellect, his gentleman's style, and his determination to always do the right thing."