By the mid-1950s, he had become a partner in L.A. Nut House, eventually buying out the others.
During the ensuing years, Gilfenbain was affiliated with several produce ventures.
In 1963, he launched Cal Fruit, which later become involved in a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act case. In 1995, the U.S. Department of Agriculture barred Cal Fruit principals, including Gilfenbain and George Gill, from the industry for a year.
Gilfenbain remained in the produce business with Eclipse Berry Farms. The company packed under the Cal Fruit label.
Gilfenbain is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gloria; son Stuart and daughter Robin Gilfenbain Baker; and six grandchildren, according to the obituary.
Jan Fleming, former president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based wholesaler Strube Celery & Vegetable Co., died May 1 after a long fight with cancer. She was 67.
Fleming became president of Strube in 1994, succeeding her father, Bob Strube. In 2004, she stepped down from day-to-day leadership of the company but remained chief executive officer.
Fleming’s industry contributions included serving on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first fruit and vegetable advisory committee.
Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said Fleming will be remembered with equal parts love and respect.
“I can’t imagine anybody who has more respect in our industry than Jan,” Stenzel said. “She was a nurturing leader who supported younger people, and she had a personal style that was warm and welcoming.”
In 2001, Fleming and her husband, Tim Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable’s executive vice president, received The Packer’s Produce Man and Woman of the Year Award.
Lisa Strube, the company’s director of finance and administration, said she was fortunate to have a mentor like Fleming when she joined the company in 1987.
“What better position to be in than to follow one of the first women in produce,” she said. “She strongly supported everything I did, and I can only hope to emulate her.”
Fleming’s first ambition, Strube said, was to be a teacher. She tried it for six months before she realized her heart was in the produce industry. She joined Strube Celery & Vegetable, which was founded in 1913 by her grandfather in the late 1960s.