The Produce Marketing Association announced Dec. 2 in an email to its membership that its former president, Bob Carey, died Friday, Nov. 29, at the age of 82.
Carey led the association from 1958 to 1996, taking it from fewer than 100 members focused on produce packaging to a vertically integrated association of thousands focused on marketing, according to the email. He is also credited with having the vision to bring together buyers and sellers in the 1960s and 1970s,setting PMA up for dramatic growth and positioning it to become the international association it is today.
"I was privileged to work with Bob from the time he hired me in 1983 until his retirement in 1996," Bryan Silbermann, president and chief executive officer of PMA, said in the email to the membership. "He was a mentor and a friend to many of us on the PMA staff team. Bob's genius as a leader was getting the best from those around him. He was a master at having people - members and staff alike -- believe they could succeed at whatever they set out to do. As an association executive he taught us all the power of community and the need to be courageous."
An award in Carey's name -- the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award -- was begun in 2012 to recognize and outstanding volunteer leader in the industry and is presented each year at the PMA Fresh Summit. The inaugural award recipient was Mike O'Brien of Schnuck Markets. Jay Pack, former owner and CEO of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co., was honored with the second annual award at this year's Fresh Summit in New Orleans.
"Bob believed in volunteer leadership himself -- from his military career to leadership in association management," Silbermann said in his email. "He had an uncanny ability to gather just the right leaders at just the right times to propel PMA forward."
A memorial service for Carey, who will be buried with full military honors, is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. in Bridgeville, DE, at which Silbermann will deliver a eulogy. PMA will also set up a tribute page, where industry members and friends can share their thoughts and memories.