Carey, who led the Newark, Del.-based PMA from 1958 to 1996, brought the association from near-bankruptcy to a powerful national trade association with thousands of members and the signature trade show for the fresh produce industry.
PMA chief executive officer Bryan Silbermann said Carey’s contributions to PMA and the fresh produce industry were immense. Notably, Silbermann said Carey’s vision helped bring buyers and sellers together and fashioned PMA into a global organization.
“Bob’s real genius was getting the best out of everyone around him — members and staff — and that’s become a core part of PMA’s culture,” Silbermann said in a news release. Calling Carey a mentor and dear friend, Silbermann worked with Carey from the time Carey hired Silbermann until Carey retired in 1996.
“His insights and advice when he was my boss and after he retired have been invaluable,” Silbermann said in the release.
Starting in 2012, PMA gives the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award at Fresh Summit. The award honors those who have shown an uncommon commitment to and impact on the association and the produce and floral industries.
Silbermann is scheduled to give an eulogy at Carey’s service on Dec. 3 in Bridgeville, Del. The PMA also has set up a tribute page for Carey on its website.
Memorial contributions can be made to Delmarva Teen Challenge.