Lester Wishnatzki, a former co-owner of Wish Farms in Plant City, Fla., died May 19. He was 96.
Services are scheduled for May 22 at Temple Emanuel in Lakeland, Fla.
Wishnatzki is survived by daughters Eleanor and Susan.
He is remembered for helping popularize Florida’s strawberries.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Wishnatzki moved to Florida in 1929 and began working for the family business in 1955.
At Wish Farms — then called Wishnatzki Farms — he and his brother Joe made the company one of the first in the industry to use mechanical refrigeration in packinghouses as well as in trucks, according to a news release.
The two were instrumental in creating a market for strawberries in the Northeast and helped put Plant City on the map as the “Winter Strawberry Capital of the World,” according to the release.
Lester Wishnatzki and his late wife, Selma, were known for their charitable efforts.
“He was a very generous man, known in the Lakeland and Plant City communities for his philanthropy,” said niece Elizabeth Peterson, Wish Farms’ social media and public relations manager. “Lester was also very influential in the Florida produce industry.”
During the 1980s, Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer, took an ownership interest in the company that began operations in 1922.