( Photo courtesy LinkedIn; graphic by Amelia Freidline )

Anita Fial, whose work at New York public relations firm Lewis & Neale over five decades helped introduce consumers to Mexican mangoes, Mexican avocados and Florida sweet corn, has died.

Fial died from complications of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, according to her son, Jonathan, in a  New York Times article. She was 87 years old.

The article is part of an editorial obituary series, “Those We’ve Lost,” covering notable people who’ve died from the virus.

Fial retired in 2011 as president of Lewis & Neale, New York, N.Y., a public relations firm representing food growers and manufacturers. She was with the company 57 years, starting as a test kitchen assistant.

As the USDA allowed more U.S. states to market Mexican avocados in the early 2000s, Lewis & Neale coordinated trips to Michaoacan to allow trade media, and cookbook and food writers — pre-Instagram influencers — to tour Mexican hass packing sheds and groves.

During her career, Lewis & Neal represented the Florida Tomato Committee, the Florida Fresh Corn Association and the American Mushroom Council, according to the New York Times.

Fial helped change public perception of Mexican avocados and mangoes from exotic to supermarket staple, and she also revived interest in radishes and celery, according to the Times.

In addition to her son, Fial is survived by her daughter, Alison Fial; her sister, Lynne Winters; six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, according to the Times.

No information on memorial services was immediately available for Fial.

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