(Aug. 1, 2:33 p.m.) Canadian produce veteran Paul Catania Sr. died July 28 at an Ottawa hospital.

Paul Catania Sr. was the former chairman of the board of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and president of M.L. Catania Co. Ltd., Toronto.

When he served as president in 1988, the CPMA was called the Canadian Fruit Wholesalers’ Association. He joined the board in 1976, and continued to serve until the early 1990s, following his presidency. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the CPMA at the association’s 1995 annual meeting in Toronto.

Michael Catania, Paul Catania Sr.’s father, founded M.L. Catania Co. Ltd., a produce import and distribution company, in 1929. Paul Catania Sr. joined his father’s company in 1946, after three years in the Canadian Navy. After managing one of the company’s subsidiaries, Superior Packing Co., Bradford, Ontario, Paul Catania Sr. bought the company from his father in 1963.

“Paul was one of the pioneers of bringing kiwifruit to North America,” said Mario Masellis, who is in procurement and sales for Catania Worldwide Inc., Toronto.

Paul Catania Sr. served as president of M.L. Catania Co. until his retirement in the 1990s, although he stayed involved in the company long after his retirement. His son, Paul Catania Jr., joined the company in 1975, and serves as president today. The company adopted the name Catania Worldwide Inc. in 2005.

“Paul (Sr.) had taken what was a small produce brokerage and helped make it into what it is today, which is a very successful company,” said CPMA president Dan Dempster. Dempster said he remembered Paul Catania Sr. as a true gentleman and a people person. He loved people and loved the produce industry, Dempster said.

Catania Worldwide now operates M.L. Catania Co. Ltd.; Stellar Distribution, Fresno, Calif.; Catania Chile SA, Santiago; and Catania Mexico, Vera Cruz.

“Paul was semi-retired when I joined the company in 2003, but he would still come in and do some banking, help us out where we needed it,” Masellis said. “He didn’t stop coming in to the office until he became ill in 2006.

Paul Catania Sr. is survived by his wife, June; three grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; three brothers and one sister.

Funeral mass was July 31 at Transfiguration of Our Lord Church, Toronto.

Ex-CPMA chief dies at age 84