Retired California vegetable grower Maurice Kophamer died July 14 at his Lookout Mountain, Ga., home. He was 91.
In the late 1960s, Kophamer moved his operation from the San Fernando Valley to Wheeler Ridge, Calif., where he packed sweet corn for himself and for Kern County Land Co. Kern County became the focus of his operations.
Kophamer and a friend, Javier Tostada, were among the first carrot growers in the Cuyama Valley, according to The Bakersfield Californian obituary.
Kophamer built a carrot shed in Arvin that he later took partners in. That operation came to be known as Kern Ridge Growers.
He also pursued development of a carrot freezer plant. Kophamer provided his own feasibility study to Grimmway Farms, which ultimately built the plant, according the obituary.
The grower’s onion operation, shipped under the Kops Tops label, centered in Bakersfield. He also packed onions in El Centro and bought an onion shed in Idaho to secure year-round sourcing.
Kophamer later grew onions in the Phoenix area and West Texas, and imported Chilean crop.
His farming career began on leased land in and around what is now Santa Anita Park, a racetrack.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Aug. 3 at First Presbyterian Church, 1705 17th St., Bakersfield, Calif.
Survivors include his wife, Jan Hyde Kophamer; a sister, Arly Barton; and two sons, Scott Kophamer and Douglas Kophamer.