While our fathers and grandfathers knew each other and likely bought and sold produce from one another as long as 75 or 80 years ago, Jim and I didn’t become friends until after we both graduated from Cornell University when he launched Produce Business magazine. At about that time, we began a nearly 30-year tradition of stealing a few minutes from the industry fray and raising a glass to each other every October at an industry convention. For the first time in many years, we missed that tradition in Orlando a few weeks ago.
Jim and I shared a commitment to family, a reverence for our parents and grandparents, our spouses and kids, as well as a multi-generational passion for produce and an affinity for communication, especially writing and publishing. Jim, of course, took those twin passions to unfathomable heights and proceeded to touch the fresh produce industry profoundly and in a way that no else has ever or likely will ever do so — with an intensity and determination that leaves the industry he was born into, but fashioned as his own, infinitely better.
As has been noted in countless articles and throughout social media the past few weeks, Jim was a force of nature in the very best sense — he was generous, sagacious, curious, respectful, always honest and intent on using his intellect and resources to move an industry forward. I was always struck by his propensity to share his views on literally any subject.
He could talk. But, importantly, he was also a consummate and thoughtful listener. I could always tell when Jim was focusing on what others would say… his head would tilt at an angle, he would pause, ask relevant questions and reflect.
This ability to listen, to empathize and to be present for others no matter the consequence is a rare talent and a true gift, and something I will always admire and remember him fondly for. He leaves that legacy and so many noteworthy traits and talents to William, Matthew and of course, Debbie, the three people whom he cherished most in the world.
I’ll miss the steady stream of photos he would share of William and Cornell’s Big Red bear, Matthew establishing himself in the hotel school in Switzerland and, of course, our annual produce industry convention cocktail every October.
Rest In Peace My Friend.