(UPDATED COVERAGE, Feb. 7) Kevin Murphy, 58, chief executive officer of the New York-based Baldor Specialty Foods Inc., died Jan. 31 at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Manhattan, N.Y.

Baldor CEO Kevin Murphy diesColleagues say Murphy helped popularize specialties and hard-to-find produce in the New York market.

Born in Wayne, N.J., Murphy began his food career during the 1980s at Balducci’s in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.

In 1991, Murphy took over Balducci’s small wholesale division, distributing produce from Queens.

As business increased, he relocated Baldor to a seven acre facility adjacent to the Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx.

Company officials say he increased Baldor’s sales from a van and a couple of delivery trucks to more than 800 workers who distribute produce through more than 200 trucks.

Baldor CEO Kevin Murphy diesAlan Butzbach, director of marketing, began working with Murphy at Balducci when Murphy married Ria Balducci, daughter of company owner Andrew Balducci.

“He was very caring and hard-working,” Butzbach said. “He didn’t take anything from anyone and was a tough but fair negotiator. People respected him for what he knew and how he got it done.”

Butzbach said Murphy was almost kind to a fault toward his employees. Butzbach said he once saw Murphy pull $100 out of his pocket and give it to a worker who told him he was having difficult financial times.

Murphy is survived by his mother, Marilyn Murphy, son T.J. Murphy, daughter-in-law Christine Murphy, two brothers and a sister.

The family received guests on Feb. 2 and remembered him in a private service at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in New York.

As Murphy was a supporter of pancreatic cancer research, the family suggests memorial donations may be made in Murphy’s name to “Dr. Fine’s Research Fund” through The Robert L. Fine Cancer Research Fund, 650 West 168th Street, BB20-05, New York, NY, 10032.