The San Francisco produce industry lost two prominent players this year, both of whom made significant contributions to the business.
Primo Repetto, manager of the Golden Gate Produce Terminal in South San Francisco, died July 7 at 92, and John Pizza, retired owner of Washington Vegetable Co. on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market and president of the San Francisco Produce Association from 1967-97, died March 30 at 91.
“(Repetto) was a man who was respected by everyone,” said Pete Carcione, president of Carcione’s Fresh Produce Co. Inc. and president of the Golden Gate Produce Terminal.
He was a native of San Francisco who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He became manager of the Golden Gate Produce Terminal when it was founded in 1962 and continued in that position until his death.
He also was a commercial and residential real estate broker for more than 50 years.
“He was an amazing guy,” Carcione said. “He never said anything bad about anyone.”
Even at 92, he continued to come into the office for a few hours every day.
As a real estate broker, he handled the sale of the land on which the Golden Gate Produce Terminal was built.
“We wouldn’t have a market if it wasn’t for Primo,” Carcione said.
Tenants knew they could drop by and talk with him about market-related problems any time, he said. And through relationships he developed with local politicians and city officials, he had a knack for getting things done.
“Everyone knew Primo,” Carcione said. “He was liked by everybody.”
Pizza was the last of the original tenants at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. When he returned from the service in 1945, he went to work at Washington Vegetable Co., a wholesale produce company that his father started in 1931.
As president of the merchants association, Pizza was a “very quiet leader but very effective,” said Michael Janis, general manager of the San Francisco market.
He believed in the concept of a wholesale produce market, Janis said, and helped reshape the board by including members from different parts of the industry so that it was “truly representative of our market.”