(UPDATED COVERAGE, June 7) Jack Cook, whose career in the produce industry spanned 43 years, died at home May 24 in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was 80.
Cook began his produce career in Salinas, Calif., with Southern Vacuum Cooling in 1953. He later specialized in fresh fruit sales.
He was sales manager at Reedley, Calif.-based Gerawan Farming, a company he joined in 1971. In 1984, he formed Jack Cook Co.
His other experience included stints at Ito Packing Co., P-R Farms, Sales King, Flagler Farms, and HMC Farms — all California companies. He retired from HMC.
“Jack was absolutely a legend in our stone fruit industry,” said Harold McClarty, owner of Kingsburg, Calif.-based HMC Farms. “In the ‘70s when he was working for Gerawan, he’d give me tidbits of information even though I was a lowly birddog looking at product. He wasn’t one of these guys who gets on the phone and screams. He taught you how to do business the right way.”
After high school, Cook joined the Coast Guard and served in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during the Korean War.
Memorials can be found on Facebook.
“Everybody should have had a lesson with Jack Cook on how to sell fruit,” McClarty said. “He influenced my career 35 years ago, and at the end of his career I brought him into my company to teach the young people what he taught me.”
Cook is survived by his wife, Barbara Cook; sons Steven Cook, Thomas Cook and Daniel Cook; daughter Tahirih Perry Cook; and grandchildren Taija Perry Cook, Andi Perry Cook and Sanjay Perry Cook.
(CORRECTION: The original article misidentified Jack Cook.)