Lester Wishnatzki, 96, of Wish Farms, remembered

05/20/2013 04:45:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Lester Wishnatzki, a former co-owner of Wish Farms in Plant City, Fla., died May 19. He was 96.

Lester WishnatzkiWishnatzkiServices are scheduled for May 22 at Temple Emanuel in Lakeland, Fla.

Wishnatzki is survived by daughters Eleanor and Susan.

He is remembered for helping popularize Florida’s strawberries.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Wishnatzki moved to Florida in 1929 and began working for the family business in 1955.

At Wish Farms — then called Wishnatzki Farms — he and his brother Joe made the company one of the first in the industry to use mechanical refrigeration in packinghouses as well as in trucks, according to a news release.

Wish FarmsThe two were instrumental in creating a market for strawberries in the Northeast and helped put Plant City on the map as the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World,” according to the release.

Lester Wishnatzki and his late wife, Selma, were known for their charitable efforts.

“He was a very generous man, known in the Lakeland and Plant City communities for his philanthropy,” said niece Elizabeth Peterson, Wish Farms’ social media and public relations manager. “Lester was also very influential in the Florida produce industry.”

During the 1980s, Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer, took an ownership interest in the company that began operations in 1922.



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Barbara Lineberger    
Lakeland fl  |  May, 20, 2013 at 06:48 PM

Lester wanted people to be happy. He always asked about your family by name. He didn't spend money on himself but gave it to everyone else regardless of race, color, creed or natural origin. God truly blessed him with many friends and exceptional caregivers at the end of his life. He will truly see his reward in heaven with the love of life, Selma, his wife of many years.

Michele Youngquist    
Mount Vernon Wa  |  May, 21, 2013 at 09:42 AM

My condolences to the family my booth was next to Wish Farms at the United trade show in San Diego so my heart and prayers go to them. Michele Youngquist. AMF Farms

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