Fresh shipper among Florida citrus hall of fame inductees

01/13/2012 11:01:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame is honoring grower-shippers for service to the industry.

HuntFrank Hunt II, former board president of Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla., Robert Barben, a founding member of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, and Bernard Lester, the former head of the Florida Department of Citrus, are members of the Hall of Fame’s 50th year of honors.

The chairman of the board of Hunt Bros. Cooperative, Lake Wales, Fla., Hunt joins his father, Deeley Hunt, founder of the 83-year-old grower-shipper, in the hall of fame. 

BarbenA winner of the Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Packers Inc.’s John T. Lesley award, Frank Hunt II served on the Florida Citrus Packers and Florida Fresh Citrus Shippers Association boards. The former president of Citrus World Inc. cooperative, which later became Florida’s Natural, he also helped the cooperative grow to become the state’s largest citrus cooperative, according to a news release.

Barben, a longtime board member of Florida Citrus Mutual, Adams Packing Co., and the Growers’ Administrative Committee and president of Robert Barben Inc. of Avon Park, Fla., was chairman of the Florida Citrus Production Manager’s Association since the early 1950s. Barben helped raise $2 million to build a new building at the Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred and for 20 years headed the department of citrus’ marketing advisory council.

LesterLester started with the citrus agency as a research economist and worked his way to executive director in 1979, leading the agency through devastating freezes and trade and tariff challenges, according to the release. Lester later joined the Alico Inc. agribusiness operation and served on the LaBelle-based Gulf Citrus Growers Association’s board.

A March 2 luncheon at the Hollis Wellness Center at Florida Southern College in Lakeland is scheduled to honor the inductees.



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