Roger Tsuda dies at 74; masters mainstay of Southern California

Jane Tsuda shares the tragic news of her husband’s death: “Just to let you know that my dear Roger passed away on Thursday, June 3, from complications of his lung/brain cancer. He was active to the end and, fortunately, was never in any pain. He fought a valiant battle because he was so determined to get back to participating in track. On May 3 he did the survivor/patient lap (riding in a cart) during the Bakersfield Relay for Life. He cherished the many great friends he made with the Striders. He was very proud of this great organization.” Jane says an informal celebration of Roger’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 23, at Faith United Methodist Church, 2115 W. 182nd St., in Torrance. “The children and I will be taking his ashes to Maui, in August, to be scattered off the coast of Lahaina,” she says. Roger was 74.

Roger Tsuda, far right, competed at a Striders Meet of Champions in May 2007. His last meets were in 2008. (Photo by Ken Stone)

Andy Hecker recalls Roger:

I’ve had many a great, close sprint and long jump competition with Roger. While he is 20 years my senior, it took me until the last 7-8 years before I was able to beat the guy consistently, so he was M65+, holding off an M45+. And he never let up, he was always tough. I couldn’t take a day off or phone it in.

Yet he was always the friendly face to say hi at each meet. Until he moved to Bakersfield, he was a regular at the LAUSD meets, which also succumbed this year. We do many of the same events at the same meets.

I frequently refer to all the people I know in this sport as friends, even though I didn’t know most of them all that well. We see each other at meets converse about our health, out training, the schedule, and that’s about it.

Roger was one of my best friends that I knew that way for the better part of 25 years.

I also got a note from Nolan Shaheed on another athlete needing our good thoughts.

Nolan writes about Ed Gonera:

Edward Gonera informed me that he had a heart attack on Mother’s Day. He says he’s doing well and the doctors expect a full recovery.

Ed at one time held the indoor world record for the M45 400 and one year I made a special trip to Boston to see Ed go toe to toe against Bill Collins in the 400, which I though would be the race of the year. Turns out that Bill was injured and couldn’t run the 400.

Ed is a wonderful man and has coached me at various times. I wish a speedy recovery for him.

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June 10, 2010

6 Responses

  1. Steve Kloch - June 10, 2010

    Roger was a great guy. He and I used to train together sometimes on a dirt track at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. He loved to long jump and sprint.

  2. Jeff Davison - June 10, 2010

    Roger was always a true gentleman, and a very talented athlete. – Jeff Davison

  3. annelies steekelenburg - June 13, 2010

    Roger, thank you for your kindness and decades of shade.
    I will miss seeing you at the meets.

  4. Hugh Cobb - June 16, 2010

    Roger was a fine human being. Of course I only saw the tip of the iceberg, but there was never any doubt as to the character of the unseen portion. I’m sure most of us Striders remember that Roger was the “Keeper of the SCS Tent” who dutifully transported it to every meet, installed it, and then took it home until the next event. We’re all going to miss Roger.

  5. Tony Craddock - July 31, 2010

    I was so sorry to recently hear of Roger’s passing as he was always such a warm and friendly fellow to chat with on race days. We had many great races within races over several decades, even though he was in an older age group. I could usually best him in the 100m by a stride or so, but when he came off the turn in the 200m, look out! It would be a battle royale all the way down the straightaway when he opened up into that jumper’s stride. Sometimes I could hang on, sometimes not, but regardless of the result, Roger and I would always have a laugh about it afterwards. I’ll miss you, Roger, and my condolences to your family. A true sportsman.

  6. Sam Murai - May 18, 2014

    Thank you Roger for making a young 18 year old kid far far from home feel not so homesick many years ago. Giving him delicious home cooked meals with rice, a special place to be during the holidays, and making me feel part of the Tsuda family even though we weren’t related. One of the beautiful memories that I always cherish about my time at USC.

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