2013 Year in Produce Farewells - The Packer

2013 Year in Produce Farewells

01/08/2014 10:39:00 AM
Dan Galbraith

The Packer chronicled the deaths of many produce industry professionals in 2013 who won’t soon be forgotten. Here’s one final salute to them:

Joan Bernardi

Joan Bernardi, a co-founder of Sandia Distributors, died Jan. 8 in Green Valley, Ariz. She was 81.

Bernardi and her late husband, Smoky Durniat, married in 1960. They formed and operated watermelon packer and shipper Sandia Distributors in Nogales, Ariz.

She retired from the produce business in 1989. A year later she opened Galleria Bernardi in Tubac, Ariz., with Al Bernardi, whom she had married in 1985. The business offered fine art and Christmas collectibles, according to a news release. The couple retired in 1995.

A childhood polio survivor, Bernardi regained use of her leg muscles and went on to serve in the Salvation Army in Las Vegas and Hawaii, then as administrative assistant to the mayor of Phoenix, before starting Sandia.

She is survived by her husband, Al Bernardi, and seven stepchildren, among other family.


Barbra Metheny

Barbra Metheny, most recently chief sales officer at Chicago-based marketer Fresh Connect, died Jan. 11.

Metheny, who had brain cancer, was 60.

Her fresh produce career included roles at Victoria Farms, Full Sail Produce, Pacific Provisions, JC Produce and Frieda’s Inc.

“Barb worked with us at Frieda’s for quite a while, and it was like having a sister,” Karen Caplan, president of Frieda’s Inc., said in a news release. “She made everyone here feel very special — especially my mother, Frieda. She had a way of touching your heart.”

“I met her more than 30 years ago, and each day she could surprise me with a new, creative way to sell one of our products,” Andy Siegel, Fresh Connect president, said in the release.

Metheny is survived by her husband, Randy Metheny; three children, Lara Holland, Kurt Metheny and Grant Metheny; two grandchildren; two brothers; and a sister.

A memorial service was scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 19 at Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.


Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy, 58, chief executive officer of New York-based Baldor Specialty Foods Inc., died Jan. 31 at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York.

Colleagues say Murphy helped popularize specialties and hard-to-find produce in the New York market.

Born in Wayne, N.J., Murphy began his food career during the 1980s at Balducci’s in Greenwich Village in Manhattan.

In 1991, Murphy took over Balducci’s small wholesale division, Baldor, distributing produce from Queens.

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