Rob O'Rourke, vice president of RJO Produce, died July 12, 2018. ( Courtesy RJO Produce )

Rob O’Rourke, the vice president of RJO Produce Marketing whose produce industry career spanned nearly four decades, has died.

O’Rourke, 54, died July 12 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.

He was known for being innovative, according to a news release, which included comments from past and current RJO employees on his influence on the company’s culture:

““Rob would constantly challenge us to think differently yet he insisted we never compromised our core values.” — Fred Valentino, East Coast operations director for RJO.

“Rob understood the importance and value of ‘the people” in every aspect of our business.” — Scott Zeier of RJO.

“We will honor Rob’s legacy of high standards of professionalism and customer service. Those are things we worked hard to establish, and we will most assuredly uphold those going forward.” — John O’Rourke, RJO president and Rob’s brother.

“Rob had a unique ability to assess a situation from all sides, understand the many dynamics and offer clear, positive solutions for all parties.” — Mike Spinazzola, Subway.

Rob O’Rourke’s career began in 1979, when a neighbor asked him to pick up a box of grapes in Bakersfield, Calif. He was 16, according to the release.

After that, he worked for Produce West and Sterling Oak. He and John O’Rourke started RJO Produce Marketing in 1993. Rob O’Rourke left in 2004 to be vice president of produce and floral of grocer co-op Topco Associates.

He returned to RJO in 2007, bringing new initiatives to the business as vice president of business development, according to the release.

Survivors include his wife, Monica; daughters Katie and Megan; sons Ryan and Kevin; parents Ron and Kathi O’Rourke; and brothers Rick, Michael and John.

He was involved in and supported Catholic Charities, the Knights of Columbus, Fresno State University, Boys Scouts of America and the San Joaquin Country Club, according to the release. He served on the Produce Marketing Association’s membership committee.

Remembrances can be sent to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno, 149 N. Fulton St., Fresno, CA, 93701, or the Ag One Foundation (to establish a scholarship in O’Rourke’s honor) at 2910 E. Barstow MS OF 115, Fresno, CA, 93740.