Fred McConnell, pictured in 1983, when he was manager of sales and procurement at Keystone Produce Co., Los Angeles. ( File photo )

Fred McConnell, who co-founded MCL Distributing, later renamed 4Earth Farms, has died.

McConnell, who retired from the business in 2001, died Dec. 10. He was 79.

In 1993, he co-founded the company, which changed its name to 4Earth Farms in 2014, with David Lake.

The Fresh Produce & Floral Council announced McConnell’s death, calling him an industry icon and pioneer whose entire career was in the Southern California produce industry.

According to the FPFC, his early career was in retail, primarily with the Vons Co. He later moved to wholesale and the growing side of the industry.

“Throughout his career, Fred built strong and long-lasting relationships,” according to the FPFC notice. “One of his long-time mentors was Norman ‘Buz’ Bolstad.”

Bolstad, who died in 2004, was the first FPFC president, and the organization gives an award named after him to honor someone in the industry each year.

Other notables who have worked with McConnell include Dick Spezzano, Roger Schroeder, Dale Liefer, Norm Park and Gary Lee, according to the FPFC.

McConnell also worked for the Duda family and was at Western Mixers until he co-founded MCL.

“Fred will be missed for his tireless dedication to his family, to his wife Sandra and to his friends and coworkers,” according to the FPFC.

A celebration of McConnell’s life will be announced later.

 
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