Philip George Boskovich, co-founder of Boskovich Farms, died Sept. 30 at his home in Westlake Village, CA. He was two days shy of his 98th birthday.
Mr. Boskovich was born Oct. 2, 1915 in Los Angeles, to Stjepan and Iva, Croatian immigrants from the Herzegovina region of Croatia. That year, Stjepan and Iva traveled with their three young sons, including infant Phil, by horse and wagon over the Cahuenga Pass to their small home and farm in the town of Lankershim,which is now North Hollywood.
Mr. Boskovich graduated from North Hollywood High School in 1933, becoming the first in his family to complete high school. With college not being an option due to financial constraints, he began his farming career helping his father on their small family farm.
Mr. Boskovich continued to farm in the San Fernando Valley, growing green onions and carrots. When two of his brothers, John and George, returned from World War II, the three became partners in Boskovich Bros. Produce.
In 1950, Mr. Boskovich married the love of his life, Lena Bradarich, a farmer's daughter from Long Beach. They had three children, Philip Jr., Joe and Janine. Lena was Mr. Boskovich's trusted business adviser and true life partner for more than 63 years.
In 1963, Mr. Boskovich and his brothers moved their farming operation to the Newhall/Saugus area in the Santa Clarita Valley, growing green onions exclusively on a 145-acre ranch owned by Newhall Land & Farming Co.
The brothers developed a steady and profitable business delivering to Los Angeles-based customers, including Safeway and Vons Supermarkets, becoming known as the "Onion King," a brand still used today by Boskovich Farms.
In the 1970s, Mr. Boskovich's two sons, Phil Jr. and Joe, along with his nephew George Jr., joined the family business, which became Boskovich Farms Inc. Farming operations were expanded to Perris and Hemet in Riverside County, and eventually to Ventura County, where the company is headquartered today.
The continued success in growing and marketing their crops throughout the country encouraged the family to broaden its product line even more. By the mid-1980s, Boskovich Farms was producing 30 different vegetables crops year round from four locations in California and Mexico.
Today, Boskovich Farms is still family owned and operated, farming on over 15,000 acres in California and Mexico. The company added a fresh-cut processing facility in 1996, which allowed it to adapt to the changing produce industry that was looking for value-added and convenient produce options.
Still among the largest green onion growers in the country, Boskovich Farms employs over 500 people in Ventura County and sells its products to the retail, foodservice, wholesale and food manufacturing industries.
Mr. Boskovich retired as chairman of Boskovich Farms in 1996, but his love of the business kept him coming to the office for many more years, where he often served traditional Croatian dishes at lunchtime for family business meetings.
Mr. Boskovich was awarded the first Croatian National Association's Lifetime Achievement award in 2008, recognizing him for his outstanding career and contributions to society. He was a devoted fundraiser for local charities, including St. Anthony's Croatian Parish in Los Angeles.
He approached his personal and professional life with great integrity. Through Boskovich Farms, he was a long-time member and supporter of the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers Association.
Mr. Boskovich became an avid fan of University of Southern California football team starting at age 13, when USC won its first national championship. He was a life member of USC Associates and Cardinal and Gold.
Mr. Boskovich is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lena; son Philip (Inge) of Westlake Village; son Joe (Gail) of Westlake Village; daughter Janine Colich (John) of Rancho Palos Verdes; and 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 11 at 1:30 PM at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels followed by a celebration of life ceremony at St. Anthony's Croatian Catholic Church Parish Center.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the USC Catholic Center Building Fund and the David Andrew (Pooh) Maddan Foundation, which provides financial assistance to young adults battling cancer. For details go to www.CabotandSonsfh.com.