William “Bill” Wilkinson, a leader in the California foodservice and hotel industries and co-owner of Greenleaf Produce, San Francisco, has died. He was 68.

Greenleaf Produce owner Bill Wilkinson dies

Wilkinson

A memorial mass was scheduled for July 22 at St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco.

Wilkinson purchased the then-struggling Greenleaf Produce in 1993, said Michael Janis, general manager of the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, where Greenleaf was headquartered.

The company now employs 140 people, including Michael Medema.

“Bill Wilkinson was one of the finest men that I had the pleasure to know in my life,” Medema wrote on Inside Scoop SF, a bay area-based website. “Luckily I also had the honor to work with him at Greenleaf the past 3 ½ years. He will be missed in so many ways.”

Another Greenleaf Produce employee, Cliff Jones, has worked for the company for 15 years.

“Bill was the most amazing, remarkable, compassionate man I have ever known,” Jones wrote on the website. “He cared about his employees like they were family. He will be sorely missed.”

Before entering the fresh produce industry, Wilkinson made his mark as a hotelier and restaurateur.

He oversaw the Stanford Court and Campton Place Hotels in San Francisco and The Checkers, Los Angeles. In that capacity, he hired some now prominent chefs, including George Morrone, Bradley Ogden, Craig Stoll, Jan Birnbaum, Charlie Trotter and Thomas Keller, chef-owner of the French Laundry, Yountville, Calif., and Per Se, New York, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wilkinson served two terms as chairman of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and was on the board of directors of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.

Survivors include Tom Given, his life partner; brother Tom Wilkinson, Albuquerque, N.M.; and sisters Isabel Kimmel, Hawthorn, N.Y.; Alice Soto, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Julie Francis, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Greenleaf Produce plans to schedule a celebration of Wilkinson’s life soon, Janis said.