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#30 – Babies are Born Every Day

by | Aug 15, 2016

We decided to wait for school to be out before moving back to California. Cynthia would be alone with four young boys until we moved in May. Nevertheless, the move should have been easy because we were moving back to our old home.


Newsweek magazine offered Toyota some trips to Australia to see the America’s Cup yacht races. Bob McCurry suggested Cynthia and I take the trip because of our long-distance move and because I was going to be “very busy” the next couple of years. It was a great experience that included an unexpected but wonderful surprise. Cynthia became pregnant, this time with a girl! Suddenly the move back to California became much more difficult for Cynthia.



Cynthia’s due date was October 26, 1987. The Japan staff scheduled a series of senior management briefings for me in Japan that week to present an update on our progress since the public announcement in August.


I objected and asked for the meeting to be changed, but was informed that it was not possible because of Chairman Toyoda’s and Dr. Toyoda’s schedules. I was told, “Babies are born every day.” We were at a standoff because I refused to budge, saying it wasn’t just any baby—it was my daughter. Two weeks before the meetings were to be held in Japan nothing had been resolved.


On Sunday, October 18, I was to fly to Japan with Bob McCurry to give final approval of the ES 250. I took Friday off. Cynthia went into labor early on Friday, October 16. Emily Jeanne was born that evening. Cynthia commented prophetically that Emily would probably work for Toyota since she knew to come on a weekend and not disrupt the workweek.


I was able to go with McCurry to see the final version of the ES 250. The Japan staff was pleased but had expected we would name our new daughter Lexus. I explained that Lexus Illingworth just didn’t sound right. Interestingly, according to Baby Names Hub, in 1990 there were almost 200 baby girls named Lexus, and the name peaked in 1996 with more than 500. It has now settled to about 200 a year.


This was a special time, but there were strong undercurrents pulling at my family. Cynthia and I would never have agreed to name our daughter Lexus, and it annoyed her that the Japan staff would suggest it. She was increasingly upset with my travel schedule and resented that the Japanese staff thought it was okay for me to miss Emily’s birth.


It all worked out, and I congratulated myself on avoiding this family crisis—not realizing that a real family crisis was brewing and only four months away.


“He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, ‘Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.’” Mark 9:36-37 (MSG)


I made the trip with Bob McCurry to Japan on Sunday the 18th to review the ES 250. While the two of us were in Japan, the largest one-day stock market crash in history occurred.


(To be continued in “Black Monday of 1987”)