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Herb Abrash, a central figure in Detroit's produce industry, dies at 79

Herb Abrash of Andrew Bros. Inc., located at the Detroit Produce Terminal Market, died May 13 of complications related to kidney disease. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Abrash played a central role in Detroit's produce industry, as well as serving the industry on a national scale. At one time he had a weekly segment on WDIV-TV in Detroit, in which he talked about seasonal and peak-of-season availability of produce items such as Chilean grapes, New Zealand pears and California lettuce, and he offered viewers handling and usageHerb-AbrashHerb Abrash tips.

"His first love was family and friends," said Jeff Abrash, Mr. Abrash's son and president and owner of Andrews Bros. "His second love was the produce business. As an industry leader, he was an aggressive promoter of the industry. On a national level, he was one of the stalwarts of the wholesale produce trade."

Mr. Abrash added that during his career, his father served on the boards of the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association.

For years, Herb Abrash ran Andrews Brothers, a multi-generational family business that was founded by his grandfather in 1899.

"Dad would rise at 1 a.m., travel to the terminal and do business amid a hectic atmosphere of sharp-eyed traders who were buying and selling truckloads of the produce that, within hours, would wind up in the kitchens across metro Detroit," said Mr. Abrash. "My dad's vision and leadership for our company and for the entire Detroit produce industry has been instrumental in securing the future of the local produce trade."

Mr. Abrash was known as an instinctive trader who placed a high value on integrity and fairness.

"Separate from the commodities he traded, he served as a mentor to more people than you can name," said Mr. Abrash. "He was a father figure to a number of protégés who received advice -- sometimes harsh but always good and honest -- and often a job that launched their own produce careers. Dad was a one-man support group."

Mr. Abrash grew up in Grosse Pointe, MI, and graduated from what is now Grosse Pointe South High School. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in food administration. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1955.

Mr. Abrash is survived by his wife, Denise (Stapleton) Abrash; his son, Jeff Abrash and daughter-in-law, Kathy; a daughter, Lisa A. Moore, and son-in-law Jerry Moore; a sister, Joanie Sneyd; and grandchildren Charlie, Maggie, Emily and Joe.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday, May 18, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., at A.J. Desmond & Sons (Vasu, Rodgers & Connell Chapel), 32515 Woodward, between 13 Mile and 14 Mile. A funeral service will be held on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m., at First United Methodist Church, 1589 W. Maple Rd., Birmingham, MI.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial tributes be made to St. John Hospital, Nephrology Department, or CARE House of Oakland County.