ANAHEIM, Calif. — Jack Pandol Sr., chairman emeritus of Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, Calif., has been selected to receive the Bernardo O’Higgins Presidential Order of Merit from the Chilean government.

Jack Pandol Sr. to receive Chile’s highest civilian honor

Tom Burfield

 Angelica Pandol (from left), Rodrigo Echeverria, chairman of the Fresh Fruit Growers Federation of Chile; Ronald Bown, chairman of the Chilean Exporters Association; Bryan Silbermann, PMA president; Andrew Pandol, John Pandol, and Jose Manuel Lira, Chilean counsel general in Los Angeles, were at Fresh Summit’s International Partners reception to honor Jack Pandol Sr. with the Bernando O’Higgins Presidential Merit from the Chilean government.

The award — the highest designation the Chilean government can give to a private individual — was announced at the Produce Marketing Association’s International Partners reception Oct. 4.

The Chilean Exporters Association and PMA also bestowed a lifetime achievement award on Pandol.

“It is a great honor and a privilege to recognize what Jack Pandol has done for our country and the business,” said Ronald Bown, chairman of the Chilean Exporters Association, Santiago.

Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and chief executive officer, recounted a story that exemplifies Pandol’s drive and determination.

After the pair had finished dining in a Newark, Del., restaurant in January 1986, Pandol asked the waitress for some fresh fruit.

“You can’t get fresh fruit at this time of year,” the waitress replied.

That was the wrong answer to give Pandol, Silbermann said.

Pandol went to the port and picked up cases of red and green grapes and some peaches and asked Silbermann to deliver them to the chef.

“It is because of Jack and that kind of persistence and that refusal to accept ‘no’ as an answer that really marked his career,” Silbermann said. “His actions say a lot about the growth of the Chilean industry and how “the entire global network of countries is now trading.”

“Jack was a pioneer in that,” he said.

Protocol dictates the Chilean award must be presented personally, and because the 86-year-old Pandol could not attend the reception for health reasons, the Chilean counsel general will present it at a later date.