Funeral services are scheduled for Barney Greene, 90, a pioneering Florida citrus grower.

Florida citrus pioneer dies at age 90A founder of one of Florida’s leading grapefruit growing and shipping operations, Greene died May 31.

Though retired, Greene remained actively involved in Vero Beach, Fla.-based Greene River Packing Inc. and Greene River Marketing Inc., which began in 1993.

June 7 visitation and a June 8 memorial services were scheduled for the First United Methodist Church, Vero Beach.

Packing 3.1 million cartons in 2012, Greene River Packing became the largest single Florida grapefruit packing operation and the state’s third-largest overall citrus packer, according to the Florida Citrus Administrative Committee.

“We call him a gentle giant in our industry,” said Doug Bournique, executive vice president of the Indian River Citrus League in Vero Beach. “He was always there for the industry and was a champion of the research and the security of our industry. He kept his nose right where it counted in research. He was the kind of man that would work behind the scenes tirelessly and never wanted anything to do with holding a microphone or being in front of people.”

After serving as a B-29 pilot during World War II, Greene finished his bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Florida, Gainesville.

A fifth-generation Floridian, he entered the industry as an assistant production manager for American Fruit Growers in Vero Beach and became vice president of Edsall Fruit Growers.

In 1952, Greene bought a 20-acre grapefruit grove and later started his first citrus nursery before expanding his operations that eventually encompassed 3,000 acres.

He was credited with starting the production of high-quality fresh fruit for export to Japan.

Greene was also among the first to start grower-managed drainage districts and reservoirs which provided grove irrigation and freeze protection.

Preceded in death by his brother, Jack Greene, Barney Greene leaves his wife, Hariot; daughter Janie Greene, the company’s packinghouse manager; son Griffin Greene, vice president; as well as sons Ellis and Kelly; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Long active in the citrus league, Greene was named a league Legend of the River honoree in 2011 and that same year was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. In 1995, he was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.

In World War II, he flew 15 missions over the Pacific Ocean, including supply drops to prisoners of war in China.