(UPDATED COVERAGE, Jan. 20): Richard Kinney, the former leader of Florida"s citrus packinghouse trade group, died Jan. 15.
Kinney, 65, was executive vice president of Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Packers Inc.,for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2012.
He died unexpectedly at his home in Zephyrhills, Fla.
Industry leaders honored Kinney as an industry giant and praised him for his work protecting Florida"s oranges, grapefruit and tangerines from trade barriers.
When citrus canker and greening struck the state"s groves, he helped persuade the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lift a quarantine that prevented Florida shippers from sending fruit to other citrus-producing states.
Dan Richey, chief executive officer of Riverfront Packing Co. LLC, in Vero Beach, Fla., said Kinney was a passionate champion of the fresh citrus industry.
"He was uncompromising when it came to being a proponent of our industry," Richey said. "When I walked the halls of Washington, D.C., or Tallahassee with him, there wasn"t one place where he wasn"t respected or welcomed. His death is a huge loss for our industry."
Richey said mourners packed Kinney"s Jan. 19 funeral in Dade City, Fla., with some not able to fit into the church.
That crowd was a showing of who Kinney was, a man who touched many lives in different ways, Richey said.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kinney was an agriculture liaison and did district work for former Rep. Andrew Ireland, R-Fla., and former Sen. Lawton Chiles, D-Fla.
Born in Las Vegas, Nev., Kinney moved with his family to Florida in 1962 from Georgia.
Kinney is survived by his wife, Kim Kinney, a son and a sister.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Kinney"s name to the L.C.S. Baseball Renovation Program at Lakeland Christian School, 1111 Forest Park St., Lakeland, FL, 33803.