A Not So Quiet Giant

Originally printed in the January 2023 issue of Produce Business.

Many years ago, Jim Prevor wrote and published a beautiful “In Memoriam” piece about my father, Stephen D’Arrigo. His kind words were incredibly insightful and provided my family with a beautiful and lasting account about the beloved founder of our company. It is framed, hanging prominently in the front lobby of our company headquarters here in the Bronx, and will remain here, I trust, for as long as there is a D’Arrigo selling produce in New York.

Over the years, Jim wrote pieces for many other longtime produce stalwarts after their passing, and I’m sure the families of these produce pioneers all drew great solace and cherished his kind words just like we did.

Our industry lost one of its most prominent leaders far too soon recently when Jim Prevor passed away. Jim was, for an entire generation, the intellectual thought leader of our industry. Jim also had a prodigious appetite for work, for taking on new ideas and bringing them to reality; an entrepreneurial drive always creating and building. Whether a new magazine or trade show, there was always something, many things, in development.

When Jim wasn’t creating a new trade show or magazine, he was creating with the written or spoken word. Jim had a unique talent for communication and the pulpit from which to reach the produce masses. The sheer volume of his output was always impressive in scope, with almost as much ending up on his friend and business partner Ken Whitacre’s editing floor as made it into the final article or speech. Jim, to say the least, was never at a loss for words!

Our industry lost one of its most prominent leaders far too soon recently when Jim Prevor passed away.

For his entire career, Jim was a must-read on any number of issues and topics, so much so that he stepped out of our industry and became a regular contributor to many mainstream media and an in-demand, worldwide guest speaker.

Jim was an old-school gentleman, a throwback — always polite, even-tempered, with an outsized capacity and inclination toward kindness and generosity. He was a very loyal friend and business associate to so many. Much of his daily professional life was spent performing those simple acts for others that make a difference in life. Such traits are almost always the result of a first-rate upbringing, steeped in love with many fond memories. Jim would often speak of his parents, extended family and the family produce business nostalgically, with great warmth and reverence. He was, without a doubt, proud of where he came from — and seemed to know where he was going, as well.

Jim’s absence in our industry will be starkly noticeable. The space he leaves will never be filled quite so eloquently or expertly by anyone to follow. I, for one, will never forget the many times I went to Jim for information or advice over the past 25 years. I would always come away surprised by the breadth, the knowledge and the thoughtfulness of the response I got from just a simple question. In his curiously unhurried syntax, Jim would unfurl sentence after sentence, building paragraph on top of paragraph, leading inexorably to its logical conclusion. One felt transported back to college days, listening to the prepared lecture of one’s favorite college professor (perhaps from Cornell).

Eighteen years ago, Jim very generously used the term “A Quiet Giant” in the title to describe my father, thus the title to this piece. Jim could never be called quiet, but he was also never loud. True, he spent his life talking and writing, advising and helping people. For that, he will be remembered most.

But Jim’s big secret was his ability to listen, to absorb everything around him. After all, nobody ever learned anything while talking. Jim Prevor, at some point, perhaps at all points in his life, did a lot of listening. And we, his friends, acquaintances and readers, were all the better for it. We shall not see his kind again. 

Matthew D’Arrigo is the owner of D’Arrigo New York, Inc., Bronx, NY.