Gil Henry later became partners with his brother Warren Henry and cousin George Schoeffel.
“Gil got involved in planting the hass variety in the 1950s,” Phil Henry said. “The fuerte was the dominant variety then, but Gil and Warren believed the hass was a better producer, so they started planting groves in hass and actually converting fuerte groves into hass by grafting.”
Gil Henry was among the growers who in the late 1950s and early 1960s pushed to create the California Avocado Advisory Board, a precursor to the California Avocado Commission. Ralph Pinkerton was hired to head the board and its marketing efforts.
Ripening rooms were the next breakthrough.
Tim Verpoorten, a salesman for Plover, Wis.-based potato and onion broker Katz Produce Sales LLC, died May 18. He was 58.
Before joining Katz in 1986, Verpoorten worked in Stevens Point, Wis., as a truck broker for Mach Farms.
Verpoorten is survived by his wife, Alice; son, Noel; daughter, Nikki Olson; three sisters, Pam Luebbe, Vicki Rasmussen and Amy Schmidt; and three grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran’s Steven Ministry.
Lester Wishnatzki, a former co-owner of Wish Farms in Plant City, Fla., died May 19. He was 96.
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 and 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.
Barney Greene, a pioneering Florida citrus grower and founder of one of Florida’s leading grapefruit growing and shipping operations, died May 31. He was 90.