Daniel B. Hinkle, president of Hinkle Produce in Cissna Park, IL, died Dec. 24 at Hoopeston Community Hospital in Hoopeston, IL, following a prolonged illness. He was 67.
Mr. Hinkle, known by his friends, family, colleagues and business associates as Dan, was born July 20, 1945, in Watseka, IL, to Clifford and Luradean (Jean) Brown Hinkle.
Along with his father, he was co-founder of Hinkle Produce, which produces Magic Wand, Gladiator and the large Conestogapumpkin varieties on 1,000 acres of land. The decorative Jack-O-Lantern type gourds are distributed primarily east of the Rockies, as far south as Texas and Florida, and as far north as Canada.
In 2006, Mr. Hinkle entered into a long-term contract with United Feature Syndicate, owner of the "Peanuts" characters trademark. He also entered into an exclusive contract with International Paper to produce the "Charlie Brown" pumpkin patch bin wraps. Since then, the line of food items sold under the "Peanuts" brand — all of which fall under Hinkle Produce's agreement — has proliferated in both demand and number of items. Retailers today embrace the brightly colored bins, which now include watermelons, cantaloupe, apples, potatoes, strawberries and grapes. This year, corn boxes were added to the "Peanuts" lineup.
The contract with International Paper brought Mr. Hinkle and Bill Albring, the IP sales representative for the Midwest region, together as business associates and friends. Mr. Albring told The Produce News that Mr. Hinkle had a passion for the marketing and promotional side of produce.
"Dan will forever be remembered as a leader in targeting kids through his Charlie Brown pumpkin bin," said Mr. Albring. "We will continue to cooperate with Dan's family in promoting packaging designed to sell."
Mr. Hinkle was a member of Milford Church of the Nazarene in Cissna. He had served in the Army Reserves and was past president of the Illinois Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association.
In his spare time, Mr. Hinkle enjoyed fishing, hunting and traveling with his family.
Active in a wide range of philanthropic activities, Mr. Hinkle believed that charity begins at home. He was proud to support Pumpkins in the Park and several community organizations through his donations of seed, fertilizer, corn, pumpkins, children's books and toys. He also donated thousands of pounds of fresh produce over the years to national hunger relief organizations, including Feeding America.
Mary Hinkle, Mr. Hinkle's wife of 43 years, told The Produce News that he "had such a passion for life, business and for people, and we are missing him very much."
Mr. Hinkle is also survived by two daughters, Chris Hinkle of Washington, DC, and Amanda Hinkle of Chicago; two sisters; Donna (Steve) Allen of Boswell, IN, and Sandy (Ken) Cooper of Franklin, TN. He was predeceased by his parents and a brother, Richard Samuel Hinkle.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Milford Church of the Nazarene in Cissna Park, the Cissna Park FFA, an agriculture educational organization for youth, or the Cissna Park Fire Department.