In Memoriam: 2012 Produce Industry Deaths

12/28/2012 10:17:00 AM
Dan Galbraith

Shives joined the Edinburg Citrus sales staff in 1995. He also worked as an inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley and as a buyer and inspector for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway. He became sales manager at Edinburg Citrus in the 2008-09 season.

Art Ginsburg

Art GinsburgAfter decades of celebrating good food and good produce, “Mr. Food” has died.

The 81-year old Art Ginsburg died Nov. 21 in Weston, Fla., of pancreatic cancer.

Known for his tagline “Oooh, it is so good!” exclamation at the end of each segment and his signature white chef’s cap and apron, Ginsburg was familiar to many Americans.

Mr. Food’s 90-second television vignettes first appeared in 1980 and were syndicated on 168 stations by 2007. The segments were still carried on 125 television stations this year.

Ginsburg Enterprises, founded by Ginsburg, also produces the “Mr. Food Test Kitchen” and the company indicated it would continue producing those segments without Ginsburg.

Ginsburg’s work ethic and the warm personality were admirable, said Bob Corey, chief executive officer and sales manager of Corey Bros. Inc., Charleston, W.Va.

“He had great longevity, and he was good at what he did. You don’t see that every day,” Corey said. “It is a true loss.”

Virgil Rasmussen

Virgil Rasmussen, longtime partner in Ballantine Produce Co. Inc., died at his California home Nov. 18. He was 94.

Sanger, Calif.-based Ballantine Produce closed in 2009 after 65 years in business.

Rasmussen took over management of Ballantine Produce in 1948. David Albertson purchased it in 1951 and formed a partnership with Rasmussen. Under Rasmussen’s leadership, the company grew to include two packinghouses, a network of growers and a worldwide market.

At the end of its run, Ballantine had a volume of about 9 million cartons of peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, apples, and Asian pears. Besides California fruit, it imported from Chile and Mexico.

Sarkis Sarabian

Sarkis Sarabian, former president of Sarabian Farms and a past board chairman for the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, died Nov. 30. He was 79.

Sanger, Calif.-based Sarabian Farms is a grower-shipper of grapes, melons, Asian vegetables and other items. Its label is Sark’s Sunshine Fresh.

Sarabian joined the league as a grower member in 1974 and was chairman in 1989 and 1990. He served on committees including standardization and packaging, environmental resources and marketing research.


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