(April 20) LeRoy Giannini, a pioneer in California’s nectarine industry, died April 15 in Kingsburg, Calif. He was 87.

“LeRoy Giannini was one of the foundation blocks for our industry,” said Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, Fresno. “He was a longtime friend and supporter of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, and he’ll be missed. In this area, when you thought of nectarines, you thought of LeRoy Giannini.”

Giannini, owner of Giannini Packing Corp., Dinuba, was the first chairman of the Reedley-based California Tree Fruit Agreement’s nectarine committee and served in that role for 28 years. He was one of the first growers to plant nectarines in California in the 1950s, sources said.

“He was the guy that had the vision,” said Micky George, president of George Bros. Inc., Sultana, Calif. “He saw the potential for a viable commercial industry.”

George said Giannini was one of the world’s largest nectarines growers from the 1960s through the 1980s until large companies such as The Fruit Patch Inc., Dinuba, started large-scale operations.

George said Giannini supported numerous community and industry programs, notably providing funds to create the F. Gordon Mitchell Postharvest Center at the University of California’s Kearny Agricultural Center.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters Sandra Swanson, Linda Kehoe and Susan Giannini; and son LeRoy Giannini, who is vice president of Giannini Packing Corp. He also is survived by his brother Peter Giannini, 12 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Services were scheduled for April 20 in Kingsburg.