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Hugh (Chip) Branch Jr., pioneer in the sweet corn industry, dies at age 60

by Christina DiMartino | August 10, 2011

Hugh (Chip) H. Branch Jr., co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., headquartered in Pahokee, FL, died unexpectedly Aug. 6 in his sleep of a heart attack in Basinger, FL. Mr. Branch was 60 years old.

Hugh (Chip) Branch
A 45-year produce veteran, Mr. Branch grew up in the produce business working alongside his father, Hugh, who is founder of Hugh H. Branch Inc. Together they successfully pioneered the sweet corn industry through many challenges and growth opportunities. They established the company as a leader in the produce industry.

Shortly after his birth, Mr. Branch's father created a produce label called "Chip Off The Old Block" in his son's honor, which is where his nickname originated. The label is still used today.

Mr. Branch was known as a colorful character who had many friends in the Lake Okeechobee, FL, region and was regarded for his great sense of humor and funny antics.

He enjoyed adventurous pursuits, such as trick skiing at Cypress Gardens in the early 1970s, hunting, fishing, flying and trap shooting. He loved sharing and teaching these activities to his grandson, Shaun Penrod.

Besides his grandson, Mr. Branch is survived by his parents, Hugh and Barbara Branch of Pahokee; a daughter, Holly Branch of Okeechobee; sisters, Tammy Branch Shiver (Danny) of Wellington, FL, and Kimberly Branch Reineke (Charlie) of Pahokee, FL; two nephews; and numerous other family members. He also leaves behind his beloved Labrador, Junebug, whom he claimed had a college degree.

Brett Bergmann, vice president of Hugh H. Branch Inc., said, "He will be missed by all and remembered for his caring soul and jovial spirit."

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13 at the First United Methodist Church in Pahokee, followed by a graveside service at Port Mayaca Cemetery, also in Pahokee.