In Memory of Washington Pharmacist Ted Taniguchi

Kate Traynor Senior Writer, ASHP News Center Published: June 17, 2024

Ted Taniguchi, the first pharmacy director at the University (UW) of Washington Medical Center and a beloved member of the UW pharmacy community, died Dec. 15, 2023. He was 95 years old.

Taniguchi led the then-new medical center’s pharmacy department for 35 years until his retirement in 1993. The UW School of Pharmacy credits Taniguchi — a 1949 alumnus — with having a critical role in the establishment of clinical pharmacy services at the medical center. The pharmacy school’s alumni association honored Taniguchi with a Legend Award in 2010.

Steve Fijalka, chief pharmacy officer for UW Medicine and associate dean of the UW School of Pharmacy, recalled Taniguchi’s “centered nature, positive spirit, smile in all situations, and generous kindness and support of many.”

“In addition to being a local and national leader, Ted served in many areas at the University of Washington Medical Center as a practitioner an active alumnus of the UW School of Pharmacy, roles in which he mentored countless pharmacy interns, residents, and colleagues,” Fijalka said.

Taniguchi was also an active ASHP supporter and member. He joined ASHP in 1949, represented Washington in the ASHP House of Delegates, served on and led ASHP committees, and was a member of the ASHP Board of Directors.

Taniguchi faced considerable challenges to becoming a pharmacist. In the summer of 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, federal authorities forced the Taniguchi family from their Tacoma, Washington, home and into an incarceration camp in Tule Lake, California. Camp records show that the family arrived the day before Taniguchi’s 14th birthday. About a year later, the family was transferred to an incarceration camp in Minidoka, Idaho.

In all, Taniguchi, his parents, and his younger brother spent three years in the camps before being released to reestablish their lives and livelihoods.

“Ted Taniguchi was a man of courage and grace who overcame unfathomable hardships and injustices to pursue and achieve excellence as a pharmacist,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz. “ASHP is grateful for his legacy of leadership and his service to our organization and to the profession of pharmacy.”

Taniguchi briefly related his experiences in the camps for a UW alumni association profile that was published in 2013. But he and a UW pharmacist colleague who also spent time in the incarceration camps didn’t talk about those days while they were in active practice, said ASHP Past President Marianne Ivey, who worked with Taniguchi at the UW Medical Center for 17 years.

“Few of our colleagues knew this part of their lives, which must have been very traumatic for them,” Ivey said.

Theodore Tetsuo Taniguchi was born July 20, 1928, in Takoma, Washington, to Yonezo Taniguchi and Chiyomi (Takeuchi) Taniguchi. Taniguchi’s mother was a shopkeeper, and his father worked as a gardener and operated a local grocery delivery service.

According to UW, after his family was uprooted in 1942, Taniguchi focused on accelerating his education as best he could while incarcerated. He exited the camps as a high school senior, graduated in 1946, and was admitted to the UW School of Pharmacy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949. He completed an internship program and received a master’s degree in hospital pharmacy from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy in 1951 and then returned to Washington, where he practiced until his retirement.

Taniguchi served for six years as the chief pharmacist at King County Hospital (now Harborview Medical Center) in Seattle. He was then appointed director of hospital pharmacy services for UW’s soon-to-open university hospital, effective Dec. 1, 1958.

Pharmacy consultant Susan Teil Boyer, whom Taniguchi hired as a newly minted pharmacist in 1972, recalled his strong support for integrating clinical pharmacy services into patient care at UW Medical Center.

“Ted was an innovative leader, a mentor and colleague whom I admired,” Boyer said. “I appreciate Ted’s leadership in the profession.”

Taniguchi’s leadership extended throughout the state, including serving as a member of the Washington State Board of Pharmacy in the 1970s. He was elected president of the Washington State Society of Hospital Pharmacists, the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and the Puget Sound chapter of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Taniguchi was the association’s Pharmacist of the Year for 1961). He was named a UW School of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumnus in 1991.

Taniguchi’s survivors include his wife of 54 years, Akico (Tatsumi) Taniguchi; daughter Alicia and son Todd; and grandchildren Jordan and Carter Eng.

Posted June 17, 2024

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