David J. Elliot Jr., a Courtland, Calif.-based tree fruit grower, has died. He was 79.
Elliot and his father formed David J. Elliot & Sons in 1951, evolving a six-generation family business previously known as Stillwater Orchards. They were descendants of David Osborn, a Canadian immigrant who planted pear trees in the Sacramento River Delta in 1860.
Long known for bartlett pears, the company diversified into other varieties of the fruit as well as apples, cherries and kiwifruit under Elliot’s leadership.
“He was just a terrific guy to work for,” said David Thiessen, sales manager at the company. “He was ahead of the curve in many aspects of the business.”
“He was a visionary in the industry,” his son Richard Elliot said in a notice released by the family.
Elliot, who died June 26, had a role in rebuying parcels on Sutter Island that were part of the original family ranch. He invested in an expanded cold storage facility, among other technological improvements.
He had leadership positions in trade groups that included the California Pear Growers, California Pear Advisory Board and the California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
“He was a man of impeccable integrity,” league president Barry Bedwell said in the notice.
During the Korean War, Elliot served in the Air Force, stationed in French Morocco.
He raised four children with his wife of 58 years, Bonnie.
A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. July 8 at the family home in Courtland.