New Jerusalem events center honors Teranishi family
by Glenn Moore
Aug 23, 2013 | 3704 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Honoring a local leagacy
New Jerusalem School District Superintendent David Thoming discusses the features of the Teranishi Events Center on Aug. 15. The building will be dedicated to George and Mei Teranishi on Saturday, Aug. 24.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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David Thoming remembers going to George’s Service on the corner of Durham Ferry and Highway 33 when he was young.

The station, owned by George and Mei Teranishi, was a hub for the rural community around the school, where families would go to buy a gallon of milk, ice cream or a cup of coffee — or just as a place for the “old timers” to gather and chat.

Thoming, now superintendent of New Jerusalem School District, sees a new building bearing the Teranishi name becoming the center of the New Jerusalem community once again, as the district’s new Teranishi Events Center at 31400 S. Koster Road is dedicated at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.

“I grew up in the area, and the Teranishis were always part of the community,” Thoming said, “whether it was donating items, sponsoring Little League or just being at the service station.”

The 10,000-square foot gymnasium

serves students from both New Jerusalem and Delta Charter schools.

Work on the $2.5 million center began in November 2011, and the first home basketball for Delta Charter High School was played there in December.

The events center has played host to music concerts, rural school basketball league games and graduation ceremonies since its opening.

“It’s already becoming a part of the community,” Thoming said. “All of our graduations were here. It’s a much larger venue, air-conditioned, and everyone could see.”

Local heroes

George Teranishi was born in Stockton, while his wife, Mei, was from Sacramento.

During World War II, George Teranishi served in the famed Japanese-American 100th Battalion-442nd Regimental Combat Team. While fighting in France, he was wounded in the leg by machine gun fire and was awarded the Purple Heart.

Mei Teranishi was sent to an internment camp with other U.S. citizens of Japanese descent for the duration of the war.

After the war, in 1948, the couple moved to New Jerusalem, where they opened the service station and market off Highway 33 about a block away from where New Jerusalem School sits today.

The couple had three children, Sheldon, George Jr. and Paul. Sheldon Teranishi and Paul Teranishi still live in the area, while George Teranishi Jr. preceded his parents in death.

George Teranishi died in 2008, and Mei Teranishi followed in 2011, but their memory has been etched into the New Jerusalem community.

Son Paul Teranishi, a dentist in Tracy, said he was proud to see his family’s name on the events center recognizing his parents’ accomplishments in the community.

“I think it’s a great honor,” he said. “Being in the community for a long time — it’s a tribute to the way they conducted themselves and their business.”

Paul Teranishi often helped his father at the service station and said a dental patient remembered him standing on a can to clean the windshield of a car that had stopped for gas.

In his younger years, Paul Teranishi saw the farmers who made the daily trip in the morning to the station for coffee and conversation.

He said the events center will continue the legacy his parents laid out.

“I can see it as center for events and to help keep the community close,” he said.

Thoming said naming the events center after the Teranishis was a unanimous choice of the district’s school board.

“It’s hard to reconcile what they had to go through — they weathered this without any ill will as a testimony for a love of their country,” Thoming said. “With all the hardships they endured, I wanted to do one more thank-you for their service and sacrifices with the examples they set.”

New hub of community

The Teranishi Events Center has a seating capacity of 1,432 — more than triple the capacity of the Ekenberg Auditorium on the New Jerusalem campus, which holds only 400 people.

“New Jerusalem has grown, every class, and families just don’t fit in the small gym. These types of events will fit in the new events center,” he said. “We want people to come and use it. It belongs to the community.”

The new center has a floor covering and portable stage to allow for many uses while protecting the hardwood basketball court.

Internet connections and a video editing room allow for broadcasting

many of the events live online.

The Delta Charter High School graduation in June was streamed live on the Web and was seen as far away as the Kandahar province in Afghanistan, Thoming said.

Basketball and volleyball games, music programs, plays and graduations will also be telecast, with students operating the cameras and editing controls.

Thoming said the technology will help the school stay in touch with alumni and members of the community who can’t make it to school events.

Both schools benefit

The walls of the gymnasium bear the names of both the New Jerusalem Falcons and the Delta Charter Dragons, echoing the cooperation between the campuses.

Jeff Tilton, deputy superintendent of New Jerusalem School District, said the gymnasium gave Delta Charter students ownership of their school.

“The event center brought an identity to Delta Charter — it made them feel like we are a real school,” Tilton said. “This produces another large space for school resources and a sense of pride for the community.”

Both school use the gymnasium for their physical education classes and have more room to operate.

“With the kindergarten through eighth grade being here, the little gym was adequate. But once we added Delta Charter, we needed to add a home venue,” Thoming said. “The little gym just wasn’t big enough — it wasn’t a regulation size.”

When the gymnasium opened in December, construction was still wrapping up, with plywood panels covering many doors and windows.

The completed building has a lobby with hardened windows, allowing spectators to watch games or events from the snack bar, along with a trophy case displaying medals and awards won through the years.

Thoming said both schools will plan more activities for the events center and will rent it out for student-oriented events.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or

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