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Tom Lange Co. executive dies

Mike Smith, executive vice president of the Tom Lange Co., based in Springfield, IL, died June 23 following a battle with lung cancer.

Smith began his career with Tom Lange in 1980, joining the company as a financial officer in the Springfield, IL headquarters, following a 13-year career in the banking industry. His strong financial expertise helped give the company credibility within the industry.

Lange“Over the course of 32 years with the company, his leadership and vision helped shape the company we all share today,” Phil (Rock) Gumpert, chairman and chief executive officer of the Tom Lange Co., said in a statement. “As important as leadership and vision is, it was Mike's friendship and compassion that we will all miss the most. Mike lived and worked with a great sense of caring for all those around him. Whether it was in a boardroom or a public place, Mike always connected with those around him and made them feel like a part of his family -- our family. We will all miss him deeply and should cherish the opportunity we had to know this wonderful man.”

Becky Wilson, a vice president at the company, added in the statement, “I was so fortunate to have been mentored by Mike and supported by him for my 22-year career at Lange.  He was a tremendous influence in both my professional and personal life and I will miss him greatly.”

“Mike will be remembered for his passion for Tom Lange and his Lange family, his love for his college alma mater, Notre Dame, but most of all for his love for his wife Nancy, his four wonderful children and his much cherished grandchildren,” Greg Reinauer, president of the company, added in the statement.

Smith was considered the architect of the company's vastly successful international expansion.

When Mr. Smith joined Lange, "They'd grown it and it was a small company but successful," he told The Produce News in a 2010 interview. "We got things in place to be able to grow and grow it did. It was just a combination of things all coming together at the same time. We had very, very good salespeople, so it was just a question of trying to take care of or account for their activities. As we did that our job became to keep it all together. They're growing produce all over the world. You've got to move it around, and that's what we do well."

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Michael Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund, Blessed Sacrament School, 748 W. Laurel, Springfield, IL  62704.