Tuk Tada, ‘epitome’ of QFC, is remembered
By ELIZABETH CELMS
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
June 16, 2009 · Updated 3:07 PM
Beloved QFC manager Takeshi “Tuk” Tada, 82, died on May 13, surrounded by his loving family.
Mr. Tada was well known by QFC staff members and customers for his glowing smile, generous heart and upbeat personality. He managed the South-end store for 25 years, retiring in 1994 to care for his wife, Virginia Tada, who struggled with cancer. Yet even after retirement, Mr. Tada was still talked about with warm words among those who knew him, as he is today.
According to Mr. Tada’s friend and QFC co-worker, Dee Hitch, the manager’s hard work and generosity still serve as an example for veteran QFC employees who trained under him.
“Whenever a QFC assistant manager was transferred to Tuk’s store, you knew his next position would be manager of his own store. Tuk had both a hands-on/hands-off demeanor. He let the assistants actually run the store with just a sage hint here and there,” Hitch said.
South-end QFC grocery checker Mary Jane Thorson, whom Mr. Tada hired 24 years ago, is one such example. Although she never became a manager, Thorson said that Mr. Tada inspired her to emulate the best in customer service.
“He gave you the opportunity to better yourself. I learned about taking care of customers, like a community,” said Thorson. “He was a unique, wonderful individual.”
Mr. Tada spent nearly his entire life in the grocery business. Born in Seattle on Sept. 3, 1926, he began helping his father, Kinzo Tada, with the family grocery store as a young boy.
In 1942, the 15-year-old and his family were interned in Minidoka, Idaho. While at the camp, Mr. Tada graduated from high school. He also lost his brother to a drowning incident.
Mr. Tada joined the Army during World War II and served in military intelligence and counter-intelligence. After the war, he returned to work at City Cash Grocery, the family store. In August 1964, he began working at the University Village QFC, and in 1969, he became the manager of the QFC store at the South end of Mercer Island, a position he held for 25 years.
“Many times, he was offered the opportunity to move to a larger store or to become an administrator at headquarters, but he really loved his customers and ended up staying most of his QFC career on Mercer Island,” Hitch said.
While at QFC, Mr. Tada was known for his selfless generosity and warm way with customers, whom he considered his friends. Hitch recalls Mr. Tada setting up open-end charge accounts for customers who, whether a widow struggling financially or children frequenting the store after school, could not pay up-front.
“A customer who failed to get to a bank before a vacation plane trip was hoping to cash a large check at the store. But it was late, and there wasn’t enough cash to go through the weekend. Tuk took several hundred out of his wallet and told the customer to pay him back when he returned,” Hitch recalled.
It is stories like this that Mr. Tada will be remembered for.
“Tuk was the epitome of QFC. The striving for good customer service. The feeling of small town closeness,” Hitch said. “All of us who knew him will miss him.”
Mr. Tada is survived by three children, Randy (Cheryl), of Bellevue, Wendy (Tim Ragen), of Washington, D.C., and Richard (Sue), of Issaquah; two grandsons, Alex and Brett; and three siblings, Kazuo Tada (Justyn), of Lincoln, Neb., Norma Heen (Walter), of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Carol Moriguchi (Kenzo), of Seattle. Mr. Tada’s wife preceded him in death in April 2001.
A service for Mr. Tada was held on May 19.