Bhimu Patil, director of the Texas A&M Vegetable Improvement Center, and Dante Galle ( Courtesy Texas A&M AgriLife Research/Blair Fannin )

Leonard Pike, pioneer of the Texas 1015 sweet onion and inaugural director of Texas A&M University’s Vegetable Improvement Center, has been posthumously honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Texas International Produce Association recently bestowed the honor at its Viva Fresh Expo in San Antonio. Pike, who retired in in 2006, died Jan. 12. He was 78.

Bhimu Patil, who succeeded Pike as director of the Vegetable Improvement Center in College Station, Texas, accepted the award on behalf of the Pike family, according to a news release from Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“Dr. Pike was my mentor and his passion for developing healthy veggies helped producers and has had a long-lasting impact on human health, reducing health care costs,” Patil told Viva Fresh attendees. “My job as the director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center is to continue his legacy.”

Patil said Pike’s research continues at the center, showing health benefits of produce consumption.

“This way consumers will eat more healthy produce while producers will make a reasonable profit,” Patil  said, according to the release. “Dr. Pike’s kindness, encouragement and nobility have positively influenced many of his colleagues, students and staff.”

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