Kunishi, RP Sister Cities tackle fundraising chore
Avid RP golfer raises money to keep exchange program afloat and to award trips to Japan for students
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By Jud Snyder  October 11, 2013 12:00 am

First of all, you’d think a guy credited with three holes-in-one on Foxtail’s North Course has a scratch (zero) handicap or maybe a five-stroke over par figure attached to his name. But no, Tadao Kunishi has a 25 handicap, which means he has to break 100 to keep up with it. He calls his aces on the par three holes “only lucky.”

In fact, he admits all during his high school and college days in Japan his athletic pursuits were confined to rowing, single scull in particular. 

Tadao also loves skiing, although a back problem has limited his time on the slopes these days. His college scull teams tried hard to make the Japanese Olympic teams but fell short. 

An adept bilingualist

Better known as “Tad,” he’s one of the mainstays of Rohnert Park’s Sister Cities Committee and also its chief interpreter when visitors from Hashimoto come to RP. 

“They start teaching English in Japan’s elementary schools and continue right on through college,” he said. “So much English is used in business and commerce in Japan. It’s this way in  China, too.”

He should know. Now 77 and retired, he had a long business career with Pan American and Flying Tiger airline companies and then with Kintetsu World Express as a freight-forwarding administrator based in New York. 

He only had time to play golf “sporadically,” kept skiing, and probably had a rowboat or a small sailboat available near his home in Sea Cliff on Long Island.

Family survived WW2 horrors

Tad still has memories of his home in Tokyo where he spent the grim times as a pre-teen during World War II. “Our home was burned down two times by American bombers.” 

He and his wife, Toshiko, also born and raised in Tokyo, have been married 48 years and have a daughter, Ann, married to Rohnert Park resident Richard Parker. Tad also has a granddaughter, Jessica, who is a student at Santa Rosa Junior College. 

Toshiko is known as the builder of 7,000 origami cranes, which have been seen Friday nights in the Farmers Market. She also volunteers at the VNA Hospice Thrift Store in RP. 

They came out from Sea Cliff to visit their daughter’s family, and well, you know the story. When Tad retired from Kintetsu, they were already enchanted with this new California city and decided to move here, along with their pet Sheltie retriever, Birdie. 

Tad already had a slight acquaintance with California. While with Kintetsu, they sent him to San Francisco State University for a few courses in international business management. Now, Tad, Toshiko and Birdie have a home on Fairway Drive with Foxtail’s North Course as their backyard. He can walk to the pro shop and tee on the first hole. He downplays his three holes in one.

“I know a couple, man and wife, who each have three holes-in-one on the North Course for a total of six,” he said.

Big job for Sister Cities group

He sees a lot of work ahead for the Sister Cities Committee. All members know they need to chart out a fundraising campaign for their work.

“The city has canceled its subsidy to pay for a student exchange with Hashimoto and it’s up to us to raise funds so we can continue with the exchange of visitors and award trips to Japan for two students,” he said. “This calls for a lot of extra work for everyone on the committee.”

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