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At this year's Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, in October, it was announced that Jack Pandol Sr., chairman emeritus of Pandol Bros. Inc. in Delano, CA, was to receive the Bernardo O'Higgins Presidential Order of Merit from the Chilean government.

Protocol dictates that the Chilean honor be presented to the recipient in person. Due to health concerns, the 86-year old Mr. Pandol was unable to attend the reception at Fresh Summit. So on Nov. 4, Jose Manuel Lira, consul general of the Chilean consulate in Los Angeles, visited the Pandol offices in Delano to bestow the honor on Mr. Pandol personally on behalf of Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile.

"It was quite an honor for the Chilean government to recognize the incredible influence that Jack has made to its fresh fruit industry and within their agricultural community," David Dever, president and chief executive officer of Pandol, said in a Nov. 6 press release. "He certainly made his mark through his incredible passion and dedication for the country. We are just thrilled that he was able to receive this award in person and celebrate with his family, colleagues and friends."

The award is given by Chile to foreign citizens who have displayed an extraordinary contribution to the arts, sciences, education, industry or business or through humanitarian and social cooperation. The award has five ranks of honor, and Mr. Pandol was awarded the highest rank - Gran Cruz (Grand Cross) - putting him in the company of heads of state, high-ranking diplomats, Nobel laureates and other distinguished people. The order is awarded by the president of Chile in consultation with the country's minister of foreign affairs.

"While the Chilean agriculture sector has always acknowledged the contribution of the Pandols as above and beyond normal business, it is very gratifying to see broader Chilean society and even Madam President Bachelet also recognize the years of work the Pandols have put into helping Chile prosper," John Pandol, director of special projects for Pandol, said in the release.