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Avocado pioneer Victor Tokar dies

Victor Tokar, who was one of the pioneers of pre-ripening avocados, died on Sunday, Dec. 15, after a defiant battle with cancer. “Vic worked with my cousin Gil Henry to open up the very first avocado-ripening room in California,” said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado. “Vic was an expert in not only ripening but all cold storage technology. He worked with many different crops. He was a very, very nice man.”

Born on Aug. 21, 1943, Mr. Tokar grew up in a farming family in Orange County, CA., and graduated from California Polytechnic University at Pomona in the mid-1960s. His degree was in agricultural science and he worked in many different agricultural sectors before finding his niche as a cold storage and ripening expert.

“He was very instrumental in establishing ripening rooms all over the country,” said Steve Barnard, president of Mission Produce, Oxnard. “Gil Henry was the first one to install a room but Victor was the guy who pushed the idea. He was very passionate about avocado ripening.”

For the most part he worked as a consultant for all of the top avocado packers in California as they put up ripening rooms within the state and at distribution points throughout the country. He also worked on other crops, including pears and tomatoes. For the past five years, Mr. Tokar has been overseeing the avocado ripening process for The Cheesecake Factory at Moonland Produce in Los Angeles. He was active in the business up until a few days prior to his death.

He is survived by his wife, Dodie; daughter, Victoria; and stepdaugter, Vanessa, who reside in El Segundo, CA.