Saturday, April 10, 2010

Loss of a Friend

Last night we got the overwhelmingly sad news that a dear friend Steve Tanaka passed away.  He was on vacation with his family in Costa Rica and he drowned or maybe had a heart attack while swimming.  He was only 50, maybe a bit younger I'm not sure of his age.  But he was not someone that one would imagine leaving us so soon.  He had a beautiful family, his wife Kathy and their 10 year old son Christopher and his life seemed so perfect aside from the stress of his job.  That job, chief information officer at Palomar Hospital, though stressful was a part of who he was in the sense that it was a mark of his success not just as very competent in his work but a person who was liked by all and had a way of getting along with everyone.  For me he was  a person that I connected with on many levels.  He and his family were a kind of fixture at our family events in California, and we at his, we went sailing on his boat, made trips to the beach, did a bit of surfing together and the occasional dinner out.  After we moved to Italy they came to visit us on their trip to Europe to celebrate Kathy's 50th birthday.  And on our trips back to California we stayed in his home and borrowed his car.  We have kept in touch always by email though most of the conversations were through Katy as he was always so busy working.  But mostly it is just that feeling of connection that makes his loss so hard.

I leave you with his last note to me:


Great to hear from you. Kathy's out in Colorado on a Skiing trip with a friend which means that I'm picking up Christopher from school. So, right now I'm sitting out in front of Nativity responding to emails on my Blackberry.
Life is crazy busy for me as usual. I'm trying to get my mind wrapped around the notion that's it's really a matter of choice in terms of how I choose to create and deal with the stresses I feel but can't seemed to get past the current reality of having 14hrs of work to do each day. But enough of that...We're all doing well here, your description of Julia entering that "tween" phase of development exactly describes where Christopher is. Pretty sure he already know the Birds and Bees thing...but someday soon, I'll have to have that conversation with him to make it "Oh-fficial"
Sports wise he's gotten into baseball in a big way. I'll email you the link to his Catching and Batting videos. He's also gotten into running gates this ski season. At Keystone on the Nastar course I was running the course next to him and near the finish was shocked to see out of the corner of my eye a green streak which was Christopher who finishing 0.01 second behind me. He got the Gold, I got the Silver. Next season - expect that he'll finish ahead but by a bigger margin.

Well, he's coming out so I gotta go!

Stay in touch and send our love to Luisa, Julia and Giovanni!!

We will miss you Steve.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful man, husband, and friend; lovely tribute.

  2. Steve and Kathy were swimming together on Tuesday and Steve got caught in a rip current or undertow and drowned. All of his friends here in the sailing community of San Diego and in the Palomar Pomerado Health are so saddened by the loss of such a gracious kind man.

    Jo Ann

  3. A rip current is a current of water returning out to sea from the incoming waves. An undertow is the flow of water going back under the incoming waves. Both are very common on the beaches of California. Neither of these are something that would normally cause a problem for someone who grew up swimming and surfing the beaches of S. California, which makes this situation even more troubling and difficult to understand.