Victor “Vic” Tokar, 70, who many consider an avocado pioneer for his work in developing California’s ripened fruit industry, died Dec. 15.

Working in the technical consulting side of the business for more than 40 years, Tokar helped design or create the avocado ripening process for most of the major packinghouses, including Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc., and Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce, said Max Nisson of Max Nisson & Associates LLC, Henderson, Nev.

Avocado handling pioneer diesNisson characterized Tokar as the industry’s “Yoda” or grand master and said everyone in the business respected him.

“He was a genius in the avocado business,” said Julio Manshadi, owner of Los Angeles-based Direct Produce Inc., and Moonland Produce Inc., companies where Tokar also consulted. “The produce industry lost a legend.”

The Anaheim, Calif., native grew up in the avocado and citrus business and after earning a Bachelor of Science in agricultural studies at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, Tokar worked with Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp., before launching his own consulting business, said Dodie Tokar, Tokar’s wife.

His biggest interest was in postharvest research and worked to ship ripened avocados to customers and was instrumental in developing and implementing ripening processes and handling facilities throughout North America, she said.

Tokar is also survived by a daughter, a stepdaughter and four brothers and five sisters.

Memorial services are scheduled for Dec. 23 at the Visitation Church in Westchester, Calif., and the family has requested those paying final respects wear Hawaiian shirts or casual attire. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Torrance Memorial (Hospice) at 3330 Lomita Blvd., Torrance, CA, 90505-5073.