Walt Tindell, former Blue Anchor head, dies at 81
by Rand Green | August 09, 2010
Walter Mills Tindell, who for some 14 years presided over Blue Anchor, an
agricultural packing and marketing cooperative that was long a dominant
force in the California fruit industry, died Tuesday, Aug. 3, in Sacramento,
after a prolonged illness. He was 81.
Mr. Tindell was born May 25, 1929, in Lodi, CA, graduated from Lodi High
School attended the University of California-Berkeley, where he met Barbara
Green who would become his wife of 59 years.
In 1952, Mr. Tindell went to work for the Placerville Fruit Growers Exchange
as assistant manager and later directed that company's extensive cooling and
In 1969, he was named president of Blue Anchor Inc. (formerly the California
Fruit Exchange), a position he held until around 1982.
Dave Parker, now director of marketing for Scattaglia Growers & Shippers in
Traver, CA, was hired by Mr. Tindell at Blue Anchor in 1972 and worked for
the cooperative for 16 seasons.
"Everybody that worked for [Mr. Tindell just loved the guy," Mr. Parker told
The Produce News. "He was a charismatic leader, but he was also modest."
"I thought the world of Walt," said Pat Sanguinetti, himself a former president
of Blue Anchor who spent 38 years working for the organization.
"Blue Anchor went through some very tough times," Mr. Sanguinetti said. "But
I think Walt, in his presidency, recognized how rapidly the industry was
changing, and he tried to get the cooperative structure to change with the
quality requirements, the volume requirements, and the quality control
necessary to survive" with large retail chains "taking over the buying trade."
Mr. Tindell "made many decisions trying to increase our volume and our
quality, and some worked and some didn't," but "I think overall he recognized
what was coming in the produce industry … as early as anybody."
Mr. Tindell is survived by his wife Barbara, daughters Rebecca and Sara; sons
Walter and Peter Tindell; and eight grandchildren.