Industry Titan Jack V. Pandol Dies

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Jack V. Pandol who, after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease, passed away on August 4, 2010 at the age 87. Jack was at home surrounded by many family members at the time. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Winifred Pandol, his son Stephen and his children Jennifer and Andrew, daughter Maria Zebrowski and her husband Greg and son Matt, son Jack J. and his wife Carolyn and their children Jack J Jr. and Cici and son Jim Pandol.

Jack was a fixture in the agricultural and produce industry worldwide, California politics, and local civic groups. He was known as a world traveler and ‘the guy who ran the kitchen’ for countless social, political, industry and charitable events.

Jack was born June 20, 1923 in Orosi, CA, the son of Steve and Margaret Pandol, immigrants from the island of Hvar, Croatia. He attended Reedley High School and began to work with his father after he finished school. Jack served in the US Army during WWII from 1944-1946, seeing combat in the Philippines and serving in the occupational force in Japan after the war. He achieved the rank of Master Sergeant and received several commendations including the Purple Heart.

Jack returned to Delano after the war and joined his father and younger brothers Matt and Steve on the farm in Delano. In 1948 Jack married Winifred Zaninovich of Porterville and settled in rural Delano, having four children over the next 10 years. During the 1950s Jack transitioned to handling sales and marketing for the family business. Under Jack’s leadership Pandol Brothers, Inc. became a prominent leader in the produce industry.

Jack and his brothers, Matt and Steve were the “3 Brothers”, their flagship label. He was a driving force and a true innovator in the produce industry. In the 1950s he began with direct sales to retailers, a radical departure of the terminal market auctions of the era. In the 1960s Jack loaded the first refrigerated trucks cross country, bypassing railroads. By the 1970s Jack had established a foothold in export markets, utilizing cargo jets, traditional refrigerated ships and the innovative ocean containers for both import and export. Also during the 1970s he established importation of Chilean fruit products providing year round supplies of fresh fruit in North American stores.

In the 1980s Jack put together partnerships and alliances in Asia and Latin America, committing product, money and expertise to develop international produce trade. So unique was his contribution that the Packer newspaper awarded him “Produce Man for All Seasons” at the Produce Marketing Association annual convention in 1987.

In the 1990s Jack embraced a new selling environment whereby Pandol Brothers Inc. was actually managing customer’s inventories and utilizing the then new internet based tools to manage customer accounts.

From the 1960’s through the 1990’s Jack was a fixture in central California politics. He either hosted, cooked for, or sold tickets to countless campaign events, and was on a first name basis with a generation of politicians. He was appointed to variety of state boards, committees and commissions by Governors Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson as well as several federal appointments.

Jack was well known as a globetrotter and spent as much as 4 months of the year visiting producers and customers domestic and international. The walls of his office and the drawers in his desk were filled with stamped up passports and piles of foreign coins, a testament to his travels. Pictures of Jack with several foreign heads of state adorn the walls.

Jack was also very involved in his local community. He hosted an annual dinner for the benefit of the Boy Scouts raising thousands of dollars to benefit local youth. He was honored to receive the “Golden Beaver Award”, their highest honor for his years of faithful service. He was a driving force raising money for his son Jack’s high school wrestling team to raise money to travel to Europe to attend the Munich Olympics. He served on Delano’s Board of Trade and coined the town’s motto, “The International Community”, celebrating the talents of so many nationalities in Delano. Recently Jack was awarded the “Bernando O’Higgins Award” by the President of Chile. “Bernardo O’Higgins” is the high civilian award of Chile equivalent to the Medal of Freedom of the US. It was given to Jack to recognize his key role in the development of the Chilean fruit industry. In 1989 Jack and his brother Matt were bestowed knighthood in the “Order of Saint Lazurarus of Jerusalem”

Jack has a multitude of friends locally and from around the world. He will be missed greatly. Winnie and her family thank Jack’s longtime caregiver, Lilly Madrid and Nancy, Jarami and Ann. She also thanks Hoffman Hospice for their help and support.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to Boy Scouts of America, Southern Sierra Division, All Slavonic-American Association (c/o Bronzan, 112 Green Oaks, Visalia, CA), Hoffman Hospice or the charity of your choice.
Services are pending at this time and will be announced shortly.

Source: Pandol Brothers Inc.