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Message from Herb Tsuchiya, 2008 School of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumnus in Pharmacy Practice

Tsuchiya gave the following speech upon accepting his award at the School of Pharmacy’s Dean’s Recognition Reception on Wednesday, May 6th, 2009:

Dean Tom Baillie presents the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Herb Tsuchiya at the Dean’s Recognition Reception on May 6th.
Herb Tsuchiya gives his speech at the Dean’s Recognition Reception on May 6th. Photos by Team Photogenic

First, I thank God for keeping me alive for this long. He must have a purpose and work for me to do for a little while longer. Just like pharmaceutical drugs, we humans have an expiration date. We just do not know when it is.

I thank my wife, Bertha for enduring me, loving me, trying to train me, and being my best fan and encourager. I thank my entire extended family for their love and support. I thank my precious and special friends. Thank you to the Awards Selection Committee. Thank you to the University of Washington School of Pharmacy for providing me with the education to become a pharmacist. To everyone that I have just mentioned, I accept this award on your behalf because it is each of you who made it possible for me to receive this recognition. I accept this award because it inspires all of us to strive to be the best that we can be in our careers whether it is as a pharmacist or any other occupation. Thank you. Domo arigato.

I have three rules for life. Rule 1 is “Be kind.” Rule 2 is “Be kind.” Rule 3 is “Be kind.” I am the youngest of seven children that included one sister and five brothers. I was named Herbert after President Herbert Hoover during the first great depression. To illustrate how poor we were, our snack after school was a slice of white Wonder Bread sprinkled with sugar. Soup for dinner was salt water boiled potatoes, carrots, celery, onions with no meat but sometimes beef bones which were free from the butcher shop at the grocery store.

To give you a clue as to what kind of kid I was I caught a cat by its tail and twirled it before letting it fly. As a kid, I had many visits to the woodshed where logs were chopped into smaller sticks for kindling wood to start the fire in the stove for cooking and heating purposes. My frequent visits were for the purpose of bending over and getting whacked with a stick of kindling wood to the part of my body where it was supposed to do the most good.

At school I was very quiet and shy. The teachers loved me because I was so well-behaved. They believed that I was studious. I wasn’t. I struggled at every subject. My third grade teacher wrote on my report card, “In music class your son tries hard but he cannot carry a note.” Is this why I only sing in the shower? Is this why I finally am learning to play the piano now at age 76?

Except for three and half years spent in the concentration camp in Minidoka Hunt, Idaho, during World War II along with 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in ten internment camps in remote locations in the United States, I have lived in Seattle. Working as a community pharmacist and dealing with the public as a “legal” drug dealer for over fifty years changed me from shy and quiet to not-so-shy and talkative and sociable. Pharmacy changed my life style.

I enjoy traveling with my family, languages, mentoring, reading, and piano lessons. But most of all, I enjoy volunteering and teaming up with organizations like churches, charities or nonprofits. It is a treat to hang out with family and dear friends to talk and share both good times and tough times, especially with food and dessert. I love people, dogs and life because it is filled with new, exciting adventures, discoveries and possibilities.

I see so much potential even in this room. That potential is within each of you. That potential is contained within your dreams and hopes for the future. I encourage you to follow your dreams and hopes with both optimism and passion. You will be surprised what will happen when you do just that. Go for it. You can do it! I know that you can. The light is green. GO! All you need is preparation, perspiration, enthusiasm, optimism and passion.

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