Gilbert Papazian, longtime produce broker and former president of Burlingame, Calif.-based Lucky Strike Farms, died May 3. He was 83.
“He was in the business since 1946 and was sort of a protégé of Bud Antle,” said his son Gib Papazian, the company’s current president.
Lucky Strike, whose farming investments include two ranches in Salinas, has been a member of Western Growers Association since 1953. He and Antle, one of the founders of Tanimura & Antle, designed the Striker label on a cocktail napkin at a Watsonville cowboy bar in 1952.
“He was an iconic figure in the produce business,” Papazian said. “He had literally thousands of friends. In this corner of the country if he didn’t know somebody, they’d heard of him. He was larger than life.”
Gilbert Papazian lived in Hillsborough, Calif. Survivors include his wife, Margaret Papazian. His father, Walter Papazian, started the family business in the mid-1930s.
“He was one of the last remnants of a time when the produce business was the Wild West,” Gib Papazian said of his father. “As the years rolled on, he lamented that the business had sort of lost its soul. It had become a whole lot like the grocery business and less about family growers selling to family buyers and chain stores.”
Gilbert Papazian was an art collector and prolific letter writer who read about three books a week for most of his life, his son said.