(March 4, 10:54 a.m.) Current and former leaders of the Produce Marketing Association are observing the death and the legacy of Robert Bull, a key adviser who helped the association survive a near-collapse and recommended the group hire Bob Carey.

Bull died Feb. 26 in Temple, Maine.

“We worked together quite a bit in the 1980s, when I first joined the PMA. He was remarkable,” said Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.

“Without him in 1958, the association wouldn’t have continued,” Silbermann said in an interview with The Packer.

Bull, a professor of marketing at the University of Delaware, was the land grant university system’s representative to the board of directors of the Produce Prepackaging Association (PPA) in the late 1950s, a PMA news release said. The Produce Prepackaging Association was the predecessor to PMA.

The PPA was started in 1949 in reaction to competition from the emerging frozen food category and to assist produce packers in addressing quality issues, according to the news release.

PPA was nearly dissolved in early 1958 after the first executive director of the group embezzled all the funds from the association before a convention.

PPA members asked the dean of the University of Delaware’s agriculture school to allow Bull to take over PPA operations while association directors found a suitable replacement, PMA said in its March 3 news release.

Bull moved the association’s remaining assets — mainly office furniture — from an office in New York City to a vacant barbershop in Newark, Del., the news release said. After managing the association for several months, Bull tapped Bob Carey, then a University of Delaware graduate student whom Bull was familiar with, to manage the association.

Under Carey’s leadership, the organization grew in influence and size, and was renamed Produce Packaging and Marketing Association in 1967. In 1971, the association was again renamed as the Produce Marketing Association.

“When I was hired, I didn’t even know what an association was. He had much to do with my early on-the-job learning experiences,” Carey said in the PMA news release.

Bull later founded the Temple, Maine-based Food Business Associates Inc., a marketing consultancy.

Silbermann said that in addition to Bull’s role in the association during the late 1950s, Bull also was the author of a landmark produce handling manual that PMA published in the 1980s in a joint project with the North American Wholesale Grocers Association.