Our Industry Loses a True Hero, Dale Kamibayashi—A Message From Mark Retzloff

I have devastatingly sad news to report to our Naturally Boulder community and the greater natural and organic products industry. This weekend, the world lost a true hero and one of my best friends. Dale Kamibayashi died Sat., Nov. 4, in Boulder.

Like so many, I am shocked and grieving Dale’s passing. Dale was a brother, best friend, confidant, partner, and an example to me.  I am heartbroken, as is my wife Terry. However, I want to ensure we honor Dale appropriately.  We must all remember and appreciate Dale’s legacy of treating everyone with respect, kindness, and always giving his full attention. His style of leadership should continue to be an inspiration to us all.  

I have been fortunate to have known Dale for 43 years. I hired Dale in 1982 to manage our first Alfalfa’s Market store in Boulder. Dale was quickly beloved by all Alfalfa’s employees and hundreds in the community. A hallmark of Dale’s was how well-liked he was in the natural and organic movement and industry as well as on a local, state and national level.  Sylvia R. Tawse remembers being overwhelmed by all the requests for donations to nonprofits at Alfalfa’s. When she went to ask Dale how to manage so many requests, Dale calmly said, “Syl, we just always find a way to say ‘yes.’ No matter the size of donation or how small the organization, we say ‘yes’ to our community.”  And, Alfalfa’s Lyle Davis aptly described the essence of Dale as “Sweet and steady – always.”

In 2019 when Dale received Naturally Boulder’s “Industry Leader/Community Champion” award, Joan Boykin had this to say about her old friend and coworker, “Dale is a prince among men—a person of inestimable value to the community. He is known for his fair, diplomatic, understated, and generous leadership style and admired by all who know him.” 

The last two times I saw Dale was at my 75th birthday in September and at our Naturally Boulder Legacy gathering.  He was so Dale – that generous smile, that immediate warmth, and that always caring communication.  Dale was a gem and his many life lessons will now shine through the hundreds he has touched. 

I write this tribute from Kauai where I am grieving big time.  I took a long walk on the beach to consider what is really important in life. Ultimately, we are all just grains of sand, and we each count ourselves tremendously grateful for friends like Dale in our lives. Too briefly, but beautifully gracing our lives. 

While many of us will be absorbing this profound loss to our community, I implore each of us to send love and support to Dale’s wife, Lisa, and his children Lani and Kenji. Please consider supporting Dale’s family through their GoFundMe.

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