Don Johnston, a longtime leader in the California potato industry, died July 16. He was 80.

A partner in Edison-based Johnston Farms, he also was active in Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, according to a news release from the association.

Johnston served on the Western Growers and Western Growers Assurance Trust boards for many years, and in 1977 he was the organization’s chairman.

“(Johnston) was integral to our growth in the ‘70s and for many of the programs, such as our government affairs focus, and all the various products and services today that assist farmers to remain competitive and profitable,” Matt McInerney, Western Growers’ executive vice president, said in the release. “He was beloved by WG staff for all that he did for Western Growers, and was a man of great character and integrity.”

Johnston was born in Portland, Ore., where his father worked in perishable sales for the Southern Pacific Railroad. When he was 14, the family moved to Bakersfield, Calif., and Johnston Farms was founded. Johnston joined the family business in 1955.