An apple industry leader who has been described as "a foxhole buddy, a strong leader, a strong communicator and a go-to guy for industry solutions" was named the Apple Man of the Year Thursday night at the U.S. Apple Assocation's Outlook Conference in Chicago.

Bruce Grim, who heads the Washington State Horticultural Association, is outgoing chairman of Vienna, Va.-based USApple and founded The Marketing Associations, received the honor.

It is presented annually by The Packer and its sister publication, The Grower.

Recipients are chosen from nominations sent in from their peers within the industry.

Grim received more nominations than anybody else, says Tom Karst, Packer national editor.

"And after reading the letters that you sent in, it is easy to see your affection for him," Karst said as he made the award presentation.

"One person wrote, 'How could a man who heads three important apple industry organizations in the same year not be awarded The Packer's Apple Man of the Year?'" Karst says.

Grim also served as chairman of the Washington Apple Commission in 2000 and served on its board for several years.

A New York apple industry leader called Grim the "George Lamont of Washington state"

That was in reference to a previous Apple Man of the Yar, who was instrumental in organization that state's growers.

One apple leader remarked that Grim speaks with ease and charisma and can be counted on to see the big picture issues others might miss.

A Pennsylvania apple marketer described Grim as the kind of person who can answer almost any question about the apple industry in Washington state or around the country.

Grim was not able to attend the meeting to accept the award. Accepting on his behalf was Dale Foreman, owner of Foreman Fruit and Land Co. of Wenatchee, Wash., who's farmed across the river from Grim and his late wife, Candy, for 25 years.

"He was a lawyer who chose to be an apple grower," Foreman says. "When there were timultuous times, he stood up for the apple industry."