Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wallace Teruya, a founder of Times

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

Wallace Teruya

Every morning, Wallace Teruya would start his day with a cup of coffee at the Times Super Market in Kahala where he would buy dozens of pastries at its Saint-Germain Bakery, have them individually wrapped, and personally hand them out to cashiers and checkout assistants.

Many of them had no clue who he was, but a few would recognize him as the owner and co-founder of the Times grocery chain.

Teruya rose from humble beginnings to serve with the famed 100th Infantry Battalion during World War II and become a successful entrepreneur who, with his brother, launched Times Super Market in 1949 and turned the business into a chain that had 17 stores islandwide at its peak.

He died July 13 at his home in Kahala. He was 90.

Teruya's daily routine is a story related to his youngest son, Dexter, by many Times employees more times than he can count.

The elder Teruya carried out his routine well into his 80s because "he wanted to thank them for the hard work they put in," said his son.

Wallace Teruya was born on Jan. 23, 1915, in Honomu on the Big Island, the son of Okinawan immigrants.

By the time Teruya graduated from eighth grade, he had dreams of joining his older brother, Albert, on O'ahu.

"He was looking for other opportunities. (He) didn't want to work as a farmer in a canefield," said Dexter Teruya.

Wallace Teruya dreamed of being an entrepreneur.

The two brothers worked odd jobs — washing dishes, waiting and busing tables, cooking — until, at the age of 19, Wallace joined his brother in opening the T&W Lunchroom in downtown Honolulu. About five years later, in 1939, the two opened Times Grill on Kapi'olani Boulevard.

After a five-year stint with the 100th Infantry Battalion, serving in France and Italy, Wallace and brother Albert began to pursue the goal of their younger brother, Herman, who had died in combat.

The dream: to open a chain of grocery stores.

The first Times Super Market opened in 1949 on South King Street. The Teruya brothers ran into a string of problems — including dock strikes and a fire that destroyed a warehouse — but they overcame it all and opened a second store in 1957.

Times Super Market Ltd. was sold in 2002 to California-based supermarket operator PAQ Inc.

Dexter Teruya remembered spending many childhood days in the aisles of various Times markets. "We would spend our summer vacations down there. We would be running around the store collecting all the cardboard containers," he said.

He remembers workers telling him stories of the old man who would come to the store bringing in shopping carts from the parking lot, arranging canned goods on the shelves, and saying "hi" to all the workers.

"They always asked who he was and someone would tell them, 'That's the owner,' " said Dexter Teruya.

But while Wallace Teruya was dedicated to his work, he was also dedicated to his family, his son said. Teruya would take his family on trips to the Mainland and Neighbor Islands, or fishing in Hale'iwa, all the while never talking about work.

"He wasn't one to come out to say, 'I did this or I did that,' " said his son.

Teruya is survived by his wife, Ethel; sons, Raymond, Wayne and Dexter; daughter, Rosemarie Love; brother, Robert; sisters, Doris Uyehara and Barbara Teruya; and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday at Hosoi Garden Mortuary, with visitation beginning at 4 p.m. and the service at 6. Aloha attire is requested. In lieu of flowers and monetary offerings, the family suggests donations to Kuakini Foundation, the Hawaii United Okinawa Association or Hawaii Foodbank.