( Courtesy Domex Superfresh Growers )

Robert “Bob” Chester Kershaw, a founder of Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., died May 9. He was 81.

His first job out of the University of Washington was working for Gilbert Orchards, but the Kershaw family roots in the industry began when the family moved from Philadelphia in 1880 to central Washington, planting apple and pear orchards, according to a news release.

“While Bob liked to tell the story of beginning his farming career building boxes for the Gilbert family, it was true as well that is where he honed his farming and warehousing knowledge; skills that would help him build his own business,” according to the release. “Some might even say Bob’s core professional task never changed.”

He led the family’s fruit growing firm Kershaw Cos., with his brother Ed Kershaw, and they opened Domex Superfresh Growers in 1981, with Bob Kershaw focusing on growing operations. That included devising strategic planting schedules, balancing the books and negotiating agreements.

“But it was simple things like stoking a smudge pot at 2 a.m., or coaxing a wind machine to life to ward off the frost, which Bob delighted in,” according to the release. “It was Bob’s fierce attention to detail and insistence on doing even the ‘small things’ right that helped lift a small company to one that is now considered a gold standard in its industry.”

His passions outside of work included ski racing, hiking and climbing, according to the release.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Second Harvest. Donations may be made online at www.2-harvest.org, or checks may be mailed to Second Harvest, 1234 E. Front Street, Spokane, WA, 99202.

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