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Citrus industry and produce pioneer Sam Perricone, patriarch of Perricone Farms on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market, died in the early morning hours of July 8, the anniversary of his wife Mary's death 15 years earlier. Mr. Perricone, who was 91, had spent the previous day working and grocery shopping. The Sunset Beach, CA, resident died of heart failure, surrounded by family members.

Born Jan. 8, 1920, in Pueblo, CO, Mr. Perricone moved to the Los Angeles area in 1933 when he was 13 and bought his first truck when he was 16, according to the Perricone Farms web site. He began his produce

Sam Perricone
career picking fruit in California's citrus groves, packing it and selling it on Los Angeles's Grand Central Market.

 

"My father was the first to sell eight-pound bagged oranges to a supermarket," his son, Joe Perricone said in the web site's company history.

By 1958, the family operation involved thousands of acres of citrus and had become one of the larger citrus distributors in the country.

Perricone Farms further expanded with the purchase of an extracting plant and by the 1990s was growing, squeezing, packaging and selling fresh orange juice, mostly to foodservice. The company introduced a juice pouch at the consumer level last year.

The Perricone family was also known for working at the Citrus House on Main Street in Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, for many years.

"Sam Perricone will certainly be missed," longtime produce marketer Dick Keim of Simi Valley, CA, said in an e-mail to The Produce News.

Mr. Perricone is survived by his children, Joe and his wife, Karen; Sam and his wife, Kathy; and Lucy and her husband, Maury Klumok; 18 grandchildren and their spouses; 34 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; his sister, Mary Santoro; his brother, Tony Perricone; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary, and sister, Kate.

Mr. Perricone gave back to the community in many ways, most notably with an annual barbecue for the all-volunteer Sunset Beach firefighters and their families every summer.

Funeral arrangements were handled by Pacific View Mortuary in Newport Beach, CA. A funeral mass was scheduled for July 13 at Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Newport Beach, with burial July 14 at Resurrection Cemetery in Montebello, CA. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Mr. Perricone's favorite charities: St. John of God Retirement & Care Center in Los Angeles; Villa Scalabrini Retirement Center in Sun Valley, CA; or the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ.