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Industry members remember fallen SPC leader Terry Vorhees

The passing of Terry Vorhees, executive director and co-founder of the Southeast Produce Council, at age 64 the evening of July 30 sparked an outpouring of grief and respect from stunned peers and colleagues as the news spread rapidly through the produce industry.

The Produce News reached out to industry influencers and Southeast Produce Council members and leaders overnight for comment on the loss of a leader.VorheesTerry Vorhees

"Terry is the testament of great character to me. At times, he was like a father, brother and mentor to me. But most of all, he was my friend. God has blessed us all by sharing him with us." — David Sherrod, assistant executive director, Southeast Produce Council

"I first met Terry at the 2001 SPC Valentine Dinner Dance at Chateau Elan, when he was working two jobs, including being our executive director. I've watched over the years the success Terry brought to the council and the year-over-year growth. He had a great touch for the attention to details and he was very organized. What a great leader. He will be sorely missed and never forgotten." — Andrew Scott, The Nickey Gregory Co., SPC president

"I was very blessed to serve with Terry in the Southeast Produce Council for eight years. He was known and respected for his integrity and doing the right thing, and obviously he had terrific vision years ago helping start the council. The success and fellowship and brotherhood we have enjoyed, people are seeing that and it's led to the birth of several other regional shows. That's testament to his leadership and integrity, and anybody who knew him for any period of time grew to love and respect him as a person and in the produce industry. He was very good at understanding what needed to be done as a council and he was very good at bringing us along with him. There are just a handful of people who come along so often and change the industry and have such an impact on it and Terry Vorhees was one of those people. He changed us all for the better. The success of the SPC is absolutely pointed right back to him." — John Shuman, Shuman Produce, SPC past president

As a longtime friend of Terry's, only a person with his organizing skills, his sense for details and his true love for the business could have developed the Southeast Produce Council into what it is today. He was one of my best friends and I will miss him." — Tom Page, Supervalu (retired), SPC past president

"Terry was one of the driving forces and believed a produce council in the Southeast could be a valuable part of doing business for grower-shippers and retailers. When you look at the success of SPC, it is built on one single 'Terry Principle' -- everyone is equal, no matter how many acres you farm or how many retail stores you have. Serving with Terry as a board member and a past president, I got the opportunity to grow as a person with his guidance. Over the years, Terry and I developed a friendship that I will always cherish." — Rick Estess, SPC past president/trustee

"Terry is now at home with our Lord and Savior. We will miss him dearly." — Al Finch, Florida Classic Growers, past SPC president

"Some 20-plus years ago, Terry started calling on me as he represented the California Tree Fruit Agreement, when I worked wholesale in Nashville, TN. He was always a great human being, efficient, fun to be around, informative and knowledgeable. I remember when I first went to work for a West Coast lettuce shipper a few years later, Terry and I found ourselves in Virginia doing a training session. He discussed his thoughts of putting a Southeast Produce Council together and asked for my support. I was all for it and as it took root, I was lucky enough to get involved that inaugural year. In those first years, the regional councils would meet during the PMA and have discussions on how and what each one was doing. Terry and I took notes and it was no time at all until, with the help of many -- and Terry's forethought -- the SPC became a diamond among regional organizations. He will be missed by family, friends, SPC members and those who will in the future make the Southeast Produce Council even better, not knowing how Terry had a dream and drove himself -- and those who would listen -- to be much better than they ever thought they could be. There will be true void in our hearts, but in our minds we can remember the laugh and smile that lit this council." — Larry Narwold, Mann Packing, past SPC president

"We will miss you, Terry. Your legacy lives on through your sons and in the produce industry. You were a great leader with a tremendous vision and foresight we all learned from. A man of character and integrity, I am honored to have walked life with you. I bet you are already working on the Best Produce Show ever in the Kingdom of Paradise. Love you Bro!" — Mark Daniels, Military Produce Group, SPC vice president

"Terry was a Christian man and great example to all he came in contact with." — Joe Klare, Castellini Cos., SPC advisory board

"The produce industry lost a visionary leader and the Southeast Produce Council lost a true friend. He will be sorely missed, but remembered for bringing people together to support a purpose that created a vision." — Bobby Creel, L&M Cos., SPC advisory board

"Everyone will be mourning Terry for a very long time. There is nothing to say that will make this easier; in sadness, memories console, prayers soothe and time heals." — Sheila Carden, National Mango Board, SPC secretary

"Terry was a true industry giant who brought us all together as one family." — George Wiley, General Produce Inc.

"Terry Vorhees was a class act to say the least and his passion for produce and the produce industry was truly amazing. The SPC has not only lost a wonderful leader, but a dear friend." — Paula Helton, buyer, K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., SPC board member

"Terry Vorhees was a leader. He had such a unique ability to bring people from all walks of life for not only the good of our industry but for the good of who we are as human beings. The devotional chain that was started due to Terry's illness did just as much for the individuals who were included on the emails as it did for Terry. Just another way Terry caused people to rally around him. What a beautiful person he is. He is at peace now. Terry has left a legacy with this industry that is unparalleled to most. I believe Terry would like for us to celebrate his life, his homecoming to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as well as the fact that pain and suffering are gone forever with his new heavenly body." — Brandon Parker, Shuman Produce, SPC board member

"As one of the founders of the Southeast Produce Council, Terry Vorhees was the heart of the organization and poured his life and spirit into every aspect. He worked tirelessly to ensure the highest quality and first-class events. He made each of us proud to be a part of the council. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Terry and his family for sharing so much of his life and love with the produce industry. Terry, we'll miss you greatly! Thanks for being a great friend to all of us." — Dave Yeager, Farm Fresh Direct, past SPC board member

"I echo all the wonderful comments about Terry and his compassion and contributions and accomplishments for the produce industry. But after spending some quality time with his family, I have to say that he spent equal time sharing compassion and contributions with them and the accomplishments show. During this sad time I learned just how much his sons, their wives and his grandchildren loved and admired him. They are such a close-knit family and I love them all. I am blessed to have spent the time I did with them. His beloved Bev was by his side to the end. She had to be forced to leave his bedside to even eat. He was surrounded by his family and that's a tribute to a wonderful man. Continue to keep Bev and the family in your prayers that God will give them comfort and peace. I'm sure going to miss my dear friend but as everyone else, I will cling to all the wonderful memories." — Faye Westfall, DiMare Fresh, SPC board member

"I first met Terry when he was representing stone fruit growers from California with California Tree Fruit Agreement back in the early '90s. I was a young director at the time and remember thinking that he was a quiet guy and somewhat unassuming but very helpful and insightful about the industry he represented. After Terry left the CTFA, I lost track of him and it wasn't until the mid-2000s that I met him again at an industry event. At that time the SPC was in its early years and he told me about this little organization that was building up and becoming a resource for the produce industry in the Southeast. I was so very fortunate to become a member of the board of directors for SPC in 2009 and it was then that I really got to know Terry on another level. But one thing had not changed since the first time I met him: He was still unassuming in his approach, always giving and sharing to others and never was he looking for accolades as the SPC continued to grow and prosper. Instead, he continued to remind us all that the SPC would not exist without its industry supporters from all segments. Terry was a giver. Terry was also a visionary: His idea back in the late '90s to create the SPC that we all know today was a stroke of genius. With all of the wonderful things I can say about Terry Vorhees there is one that is most important. Terry was a man of faith and he cultivated that faith with everyone he met. It touched each of us who knew Terry and knowing him was to understand what humility really is. Terry had not an envious bone in his body, he loved unconditionally and his purpose was to help others and he did that every day in the many lives he touched. God bless Terry and his family." — Joe Watson, Rouses Supermarkets, SPC board member

"We are truly grateful and blessed to have known Terry, a remarkable and generous man who welcomed us and everyone he met into the produce industry with open arms and always made the Southeast Produce Council feel like family." — John and Kim Avola, Idea Garden Marketing

"Terry is everyone's trusted friend. His contributions to charities, this industry, SPC and countless individuals will not be forgotten. His kindness, smile and laugh will live on in our memories forever. He will be missed." — Michael A. Gonzalez, SMS Produce-Florida, SPC board member

"I would describe Terry as a man of faith. Faith in an idea over a decade ago that became a leading organization in our industry. Faith in me to become part of its board of directors, which has had a powerful impact on me personally and our company. Faith in our savior Jesus Christ who now gives him peace and will glorify him in Heaven for evermore. I'm very thankful I got to know Terry Vorhees." — Brian Rayfield, J&J Family of Farms, SPC board member

"From the moment I met Terry at the first Southern Exposure in Lakeland, Florida, I felt he and the founding members of the SPC were building something special. Under Terry's leadership and guidance, the SPC quickly became the produce industry's premiere association. Throughout the council's years of growth and success, Terry would shy away from accepting the bulk of the well-deserved credit. Instead, he chose to showcase his team, directors, committee members, and many volunteers. The SPC environment Terry created was one that fostered camaraderie and stewardship. Terry just didn't converse with people, he connected. His uncanny ability to achieve a true connection was a gift. And it was a gift he gave freely and often to those blessed enough to know him. Terry made an indelible impact to the council and our industry as a whole. As SPC members, our lives have all been enriched by knowing Terry. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten." — Harold Paivarinta, JemD/Red Sun Farms, SPC board member

"One never can truly never understand the scope or reach of his impact. We say everything is big in Texas, and Terry took this cowboy and showed him the heart and soul of the southeast. He was larger than life in this industry. His work, his passion, has left imprints on every one of us who he touched. I am sure he is at the ultimate party in heaven and we were all blessed by the time with him and the work done by him. God bless you Terry." — Tommy Wilkins, Grow Farms-Texas, SPC board member

Terry was a mentor and friend to so many people in the industry. Personally, he took care of me when I was a young man trying to break into the industry. He took me under his wing and gave me guidance that I continue to follow. He will be forever missed but never forgotten." — Mike Ryan, Bayshore Produce, SPC board member

While this is terribly sad for all of us, my grief is eased knowing Terry is no longer in pain. Terry's vision and devotion will allow his memory to live on through the council he so dearly loved. Thoughts and prayers to Bev, Scott and the rest of Terry's family. God bless." — Daniel Klausner, Apio Inc., past SPC board member

"It's a very sad day to lose a great man and a great friend like Terry. I know he will be fondly remembered by all of us as a kind and considerate friend and produce professional who added so much to our lives, our industry and especially the Southeast Produce Council. His memory and legacy will live on through all of us." — Doug Tannehill, Global Perishable Services, SPC board member

"It's with faith that we can be consoled that Terry is now in peace. And by the outpouring of love here Terry can smile and know his time here was spent very well. We've been blessed to have had Terry in our lives." — Kevin Dunleavy, Super Marketing Promotions, SPC board member