John Martin III, who owned and operated Salinas, Calif.-based Performance Growers before Alzheimer’s prompted his retirement in 2001, died Dec. 16.

Better known as Jack Martin, he’d been living near family in Littleton, Colo. He was 63.

“He grew thousands of acres of head lettuce, and sold it himself,” said his son Ryan Martin, who’s general manager at Holtville, Calif.-based Bornt & Sons. Jack Martin, whose other commodities included endive and escarole, numbered Ready Pac among his clients.

“When I was 18 I started working for him and learned to do all the farming and planting,” said Ryan Martin, 32, who specializes in organic and conventional baby spinach and spring mix. “I enjoyed it and kept on going.”

Jack Martin also grew crops in the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Ariz., areas. Farming was a family tradition that he both inherited and passed on.

Survivors include his parents, John Martin, Jr., a co-founder of the Produce Marketing Association; and Mary Ann Martin of Escondido. His children are Chrystina Gallo, Jennifer Reynolds and Ryan Martin. Martin had five grandchildren.

A memorial is set for 1 p.m. Jan. 8 at First Presbyterian Church in Salinas. A longtime member of the church, he’d once taught Bible studies for such diverse groups as children and incarcerated adults.

Donations can be made in Martin’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Former Salinas grower Martin dead at 63