Terry Vorhees, executive director of the Southeast Produce Council, died Wednesday night, July 30, after a short battle with lung cancer. He was 64 years old and a resident of Ruskin, FL.
Mr. Vorhees had a long and successful career in the produce industry, including serving as a representative of the California Tree Fruit Agreement for many years. But his professional legacy -- what he will be remembered for as long as there is a produce industry -- is an association he helped bring into existence.
Mr. Vorhees was one of six industry leaders who met in Atlanta in 1999 to discuss forming a new organization, one that would represent the interests and unique characteristics of the produce industry in the southeastern United States. That new organization would eventually be called the Southeast Produce Council, and Mr. Vorhees would become its first executive director, a title he would hold proudly until the day he died.
The council held its first conference and expo in 2004, in Lakeland, FL, with 92 exhibitors and drawing a few hundred people. But the council and the expo grew steadily under Mr. Vorhees' leadership as the years went by. That annual event, which is now known as Southern Exposure, drew close to 1,800 people in 2014, and there's a waiting list to exhibit.
This past June 18-19, the council held its first Charity Golf Classic, at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort in Braselton, GA, and raised $50,000 for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. During a video link at the event, the council surprised Mr. Vorhees by announcing that in future years, the event would be known as the Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic in honor of "his vision in creating this event, his commitment to giving back and his service to the Southeast Produce Council."
Eight states -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee -- comprised the original base of the council; it added Virginia and Kentucky in the fall of 2004.
Many people, of course, have contributed to the great success of the council, but Mr. Vorhees was in many respects its driving force. And in so many ways, and for so many people, he was the face of the Southeast Produce Council.
Terry Lee Vorhees was born June 2, 1950 in Logan, OH, where he grew up. He played football at Logan High School, graduating in 1968.
He moved to Washington, DC, where he met Susan Angle. They got married in 1970 and had two sons, Shaun and Scott. After they got divorced, Mr. Vorhees married Beverly Dye Yoder in 1987, and he became step-father to Ryan and Sean Yoder.
They all survive him, along with his brothers, Keith Vorhees and Allen Vorhees; his sister, Melissa Snyder; his mother, Lois; and three grandchildren, Seth, Jacob and Chase.
Funeral arrangements are in the process of being finalized.