It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Carl Sam Maggio of La Jolla, California, on Friday, August 19, 2022 at 89 years old.
Carl Sam was born in El Centro, California to Samuel and Rosalia (Imburgia) Maggio, who had immigrated to the United States from Campofelice di Roccella, Sicily, Italy. Carl was surrounded by agriculture his whole life having grown up in the Imperial Valley, a vibrant agricultural community. Carl graduated from the University of Southern California where he was a proficient and valuable player on the baseball team, and was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. After graduating college, Carl served in the US Army where, among his other military duties, he played the trumpet in the military band. He loved to tell hi2s grandchildren numerous times that while in basic training he had to march 50,75,100 miles (the distance changed the more he told the story) in one day and camp out in the freezing weather. He would laugh that he and his buddy survived by lighting candles all night to keep warm. Later in life, Carl also attended the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program.
Carl Sam was an agricultural industry giant and spent six decades in the fresh produce industry. His agricultural career began with working for his uncle Joe Maggio, the “Carrot King,” where he learned farming from the “ground-up”, by doing the irrigating, cultivating, harvesting, packing and selling, as well as supervising farm labor. However, endowed with an entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for agriculture, and being a natural-born leader, Carl soon yearned to have his own deal and in 1962 partnered with J. A. “Skip” Tostado to launch Maggio-Tostado, Inc. Later, in 1975, Carl Sam partnered with Domenick “Cookie” Bianco and Howard Marguleas in Sun World, where they built a legacy in bell peppers, seedless watermelons and table grapes. Finally, in 1992 Carl Sam partnered with Mark Nickerson and Chuck Hodges to form what is now known as Prime Time International, an industry leader specializing in the year-round production of colored bell peppers, as well as seasonal commodities like sweet corn and watermelon.
Affectionately named the “Pepper King” after the success of Prime Time International, Carl Sam was a leader in the agricultural industry and was heavily involved with Western Growers Association (WGA), serving on their Board of Directors for many years and becoming Chairman of the Board in 1992. He received the distinguished Award of Honor in 2012, the WGA’s highest recognition of industry achievement, given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community. Carl’s stature and leadership in the agricultural industry led him to serve as a delegate in a U.S. Agriculture Summit held in the Oval Office under President George H. Bush. During his career, Carl developed many special life-long loyal friendships with others and always enjoyed spending time together, laughing, and telling stories and jokes.
While passionate about the agricultural industry, Carl was also a loving and caring father and grandfather. He adored his family and would do anything for them, loved spending time with them and was passionate about spoiling his grandchildren by taking them to the “Toy” store. Affectionately known as “Nono,” Carl made each grandchild feel special and shared his wisdoms and life lessons. Carl always quietly helped others, never seeking recognition for his generosity and compassion for others. He loved to support a multitude of worthy causes and was especially passionate about helping the Boys & Girls Club. He treated others with respect and was never boastful about his achievements, instead building up others with his appreciation for them as a person. He was always hosting family and friends, celebrating holidays and events, making everyone feel welcomed and included, and treated everyone as family. Carl Sam’s sense of humor and good nature were legendary both in his personal and professional lives. He was known for his larger than life demeanor and shrewd business sense in the agriculture industry, earning him the nickname “Top Gun,” and for his compassion and generosity within the community.
Among Carl’s’ passion was a love of sports, especially golf and baseball. He loved to play golf and was known for a wicked short game and middle of the fairway drives. He loved the competition and played multiple years in the Bob Hope Desert Classic. Carl’s love of baseball led him to be fiercely “Friar Faithful” for the San Diego Padres. He even attended a Padres Fantasy Camp in the early 90s, where he reached first base on a single during the camp’s finale game at Jack Murphy Stadium. Carl was also a faithful alumnus to his beloved USC Trojans and loved spending time watching USC games. He was a member of the USC Associates, holding season tickets for USC football for many years.
Carl Sam Maggio was preceded in death by his parents and four sisters: Mimi Joaquin, Connie Lundy, Mary Lloyd, and Rosalie Maggio. He is survived by his friend and loving wife of over 18 years, Barbara Maggio. Carl Sam had three wonderful and loving children with his former wife, Sally (Mann) Maggio: Jennifer Maggio, Leanne Ryan (Jonathan), and Sam Maggio. Carl had six loving and adoring grandchildren: Sicily Brannen, Matthew Ryan (MacKenna), Mackenzie Ryan, Michael Ryan, Carl S. Maggio, and Marcella Maggio. In addition, Carl had two step sons, Kris Lynds (Cindy), Greg Lynds (Maureen) , and five wonderful step-grandchildren: Scott, Brad, Kyle, Travis, and Bryce Lynds. Last but not least, Carl is survived by their beloved miniature schnauzer, Lily.
Services are being held on September 9, 2022 at All Hallows Catholic Church, 6602 La Jolla Scenic Drive South, La Jolla, CA 92037. A funeral mass will be at 10:00 am with a memorial celebration to follow at La Jolla Country Club, 7301 High Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Carl Sam’s name to your favorite charity.