(March 27) The last of three brothers who founded the DiMare Co., Boston, has died.
Dominic DiMare was 94 when he died of respiratory failure March 19 in Key Biscayne, Fla. His burial was March 26 in Belmont, Mass.
DiMare was a teenager when he and his brothers, Anthony and Joseph, started selling produce from pushcarts seven days a week on the streets of Boston. Thomas DiMare, Dominic’s son and president of DiMare-California, said one brother would work the cart while another kept a lookout for truant officers.
DiMare Bros., as the company was then named, outgrew pushcarts in 1929 and moved into a shop on Hale Street in Boston’s West End. A year later it expanded to a stall in the Quincy Market. Today, DiMare has growing and packing operations in California, Florida and South Carolina and eight repacking and distribution centers in California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“This is a classic American story,” said Jeff Dolan, DiMare’s grandson and production manager for DiMare-California. “His parents came over from Italy with a couple of kids and had more kids. You had a bunch of kids growing up poor in Boston.”
But the brothers worked hard, Dolan said, and passed that work ethic on to the next generation. Thomas DiMare said DiMare is one of the nation’s largest fresh tomato companies.
DiMare and his brothers later opened a wholesale produce company. Dominic DiMare was a founding member of the board of directors for the Boston Market Terminal in Everett, Mass. He also served on the board of directors of Pilgrim Trust, which later became the Bank of New England.
“He was the catalyst to bringing all the people together to build the market,” Thomas DiMare said. “He was its president for many years and kept the group together.”
In an effort to assure quality and year-round supply, the DiMares branched into farming in the 1940s, setting up operations in Cuba and Florida. In 1950, the company expanded to California.
“To this day, we’re one of the few nationwide tomato grower, packer, shipper and repackers,” Dolan said. “That was a real first. Most guys were farmers and went in the other direction.”
Thomas DiMare said his father was a pioneer in prepackaged produce in the 1970s.
“He created, in conjunction with Stop & Shop, probably the first produce repacking facility in the United States,” he said. “It was fully air conditioned, and it was a model that everybody copied. It converted produce departments from bulk to packaged.”
Dominic and Anthony DiMare retired in 1985 and sold the company to their children. Dominic continued to keep tabs on the industry and the family business.
DiMare’s wife Collette preceded him in death in 1998. In addition to Thomas DiMare, he is survived by his son Charles Dolan, president of DiMare-New England.