(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 12)  Remembered as an apple industry icon, friends and colleagues mourned the death of Robert Norinsberg.

UPDATED: Eastern apple pioneer 'moved a lot of fruit'An apple grower, shipper and wholesaler, Norinsberg died Dec. 25. He was 76.

Norinsberg entered the produce industry in 1958 working for his father, Jack Norinsberg, in the New York-based The Norinsberg Corp. In 1992, the company transitioned into Bronx, N.Y.-based Natures Best Produce, a wholesaler on the Hunts Point Terminal Market.

During the 1970s, Robert Norinsberg grew apples on up to 4,000 of his own acres in Vermont and Maine, said son Mike Norinsberg, Natures Best’s president.

“He was a real builder and a real entrepreneur who touched many people, and many people knew and loved him,” Mike Norinsberg said. “In the 1970s, he basically ran the eastern apple business.”

Harold Albinder, president of Milton, N.Y.-based Hudson River Fruit Distributors, a subsidiary of Allstate Apple Exchange Inc., said Robert Norinsberg was the biggest mover of Vermont and Maine apples.

“He was formidable in his time, and very big in his days, during the 1960s,” Albinder said. “He was important to the eastern apple industry. He moved a lot of fruit.”