Bill Crum, who received The Packer's Produce Man of the Year Award in 1982, has died. ( Courtesy Crum family )

William Crum Jr., retired senior vice president of sales and marketing from Castle & Cooke Foods, died Aug. 29. He was 97.

Crum, who started his produce career at Standard Fruit in Dallas, first honed his skills by selling everything from Bibles, to sporting goods and stoves door to door, according to information from his family.

Crum served during WWII as a B-17 bomber pilot, and planned to be an attorney, but switched to the MBA program when he was told he couldn’t work while pursuing a law degree, leaving him without a way to pay tuition, according to his family.

He moved to Dallas, where he met his wife, Robbie Lee Folkes. She died in 2010 after 60 years of marriage.

Moving to San Francisco, Crum joined Castle & Cooke, establishing life-long friendships throughout the industry and developing a workplace culture that valued sales teams, according to the family.

He was proactive in moving ocean transport to containerized banana shipments, and championing retailer use of pineapple peelers/corers so consumers could see the fresh-cut process. Also at Castle & Cooke, he promoted bagged salad mixes in their early days.

Crum also developed a produce handling internship program for high school students in Oakland to help with future job prospects.

He received The Packer’s Produce Man of the Year in 1982, was named San Francisco’s Marketing Executive of the Year in 1981, and was a board member of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association in 1986 before retiring from Castle & Cooke.

Survivors include daughter Suzanne Crum Angulo and William J. Crum Jr., and their spouses.

The family requests donations to the leadership residency program at Park Community Church, 1001 N. Crosby St., Chicago, IL, 60610 (attn. William Crum Memorial).

A memorial service is planned Sept. 15 at the church.