(Jan. 30) Mark Stout, owner of Eckert’s Produce Inc., Philadelphia, and Valley Brook Farms, Nockamixon, Pa., died Jan. 15 while skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He was 45.

Eckert’s operates three units on the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market.

“Mark was a great guy, a very good person and stockholder,” said friend and market corporation board president Jimmy Storey. “He was a member of my board, and he never missed a meeting.”

Stout was the largest watermelon wholesaler in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, said Storey, president and owner of Quaker City Produce Co. He was also active in Dutch red peppers and Israeli-grown basil.

George Manos, president of Philadelphia-based T.M. Kovacevich-Philadephia Inc. and fellow board member, said Stout was a hard worker.

“We’re attempting to get a new market built, and Mark was in the forefront,” Manos said. “He had a lot of excellent suggestions and will be dearly missed.”

Stout, an avid skier, had recently completed construction of his dream home in Craig, Colo., according to The Steamboat Pilot, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Stout is survived by his wife of 25 years, Marita, and three children.

Rob Ryg, Routt County coroner, attributed Stout’s death to ski-related suffocation.