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John Derdivanis dies at 87

by | December 13, 2009
John Napoleon Derdivanis, 87, died Dec. 12 in Monterey, CA.

Born March 29, 1922, to Greek immigrant parents in Fresno, CA, he graduated from Roosevelt High School, where he was class president in 1937, according to a Dec. 14 press release. He continued to Bakersfield Junior College, where he was student body president.

Along with a stint in the U.S. Army, Mr. Derdivanis attended the University of California at Los Angeles, where he majored in business and served on the Student Council. He was a pitcher for the UCLA Bruins and was affiliated with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. There he met the love of his life, Bonnie Lee Roberts. They were married the next summer, on July 2, 1947, and settled in West Los Angeles.

In 1952 they moved to Salinas, where Mr. Derdivanis was a partner in the Armstrong Paper Co. and Martin Produce. In 1957, he and his UCLA fraternity brother Herb Fleming started the Admiral Packing Co.

Mr. Derdivanis was president of the Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association of Central California in 1966 and on the California Chamber of Commerce board of directors from 1967 to 1992. He was instrumental in the formation of the Central California Iceberg Cooperative, served as Western Growers Association president in 1971 and United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association president in 1985.

Mr. Derdivanis was recognized by the Harden Memorial Heart Center in 1985 for his work in helping the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital obtain approval from California. In addition, he served on the Governor Campaign committees for Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, and was a member of the Elks Club, the Salinas Jaycees, the Nite Caps, and the Jolly Rogers.

In 1960 John and Bonnie Derdivanis became charter members of Corral de Tierra Country Club, where they were avid golfers. John was a six-handicap golfer and two-time champion of the International Golf Tournament as well as Firstst Flight Club Champion at Corral de Tierra in 1964. After retirement, Mr. Derdivanis played golf at least four to five times a week, especially in the winter when he and his wife would relocate to their home at PGA West in La Quinta for six months out of the year.

Mr. Derdivanis is survived by his daughter, Kris, (Ron) Munoz of Venice, CA; his son Derek of Monterey and his son Kent (Joette Schmidt) of Scottsdale, AZ. He is also survived by grandsons Matt (Jessica) and Corey of Scottsdale, AZ; granddaughters, Kyra and Cassie, of Turlock; and a sister, Athena Lofaro, of San Jose. He was preceded in death by his wife, Bonnie, in 2003, his parents, and two sisters, Diamond Sherman and Mary Miller.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 301 Corral de Tierra Road, Salinas, CA. There will be a Celebration of Life Reception at 3 p.m. at Corral de Tierra Country Club, 81 Corral de Tierra Road, Salinas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of the Central Coast, 2 Upper Ragsdale Drive, Suite D210, Monterey, CA 93940.