David Peterson, former president of the Texas Vegetable Association and the founder of Alamo, Texas-based Tex Starr Distributing, died Sept. 7.

Peterson, who was also a founding partner of Red Starr, began working at his family’s business, Rio Grande City, Texas-based Starr Produce Co., in 1975, according to a company news release.

At Starr Produce, Peterson worked with his father, A.V., and his brothers Robert and James.

Beginning as an assistant farm manager, Peterson eventually became president of the company. He expanded the company into Mexico, sourcing honeydews and seedless watermelons.

In 2005, Peterson, his son Lance and two others formed Red Starr to handle their Mexican deals.

Under Peterson’s leadership, Red Starr developed the Royal Star papaya, known for its small size and high brix levels.

Ray Prewett, executive vice president of the Texas Vegetable Association, said Peterson was highly respected in the industry and much-loved, inside and outside of the produce world.

“Starr Produce was one of the premier vegetable operations in the Rio Grande Valley for years, and David was a big part of that. And he developed an outstanding program in Mexico.”

A service for Peterson is scheduled for Sept. 21 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in McAllen, Texas.