April 2007
Learning from Grandpa

I’ve always known my grandfather was a special man. In his life, he taught many people many things about what it takes to be a good, hard-working and honest person. And in his recent death, he taught an even more important lesson: the importance of coming together.

As a fruit grower, he grew some of the most beautiful and tasty fruit I’ve ever seen. And he helped to teach three generations of my family the honor that hard work brings even if it means no summer vacations and a farmer’s tan that doesn’t go over so well with your friends.

As a chemical representative Grandpa worked in that industry for 30 years before retiring he showed his clients that he truly cared about them and took time to get to know each of them on an individual basis. From this, he showed all of us that it’s always important to do a good job. And it’s always important to like what you do and show it through your actions.

His work aside, my grandpa lived his life with a pride and honor that I am glad I got to experience. And from him and, of course, my parents I’ve learned what it takes to make it in the real world.

And it seems almost all growers of every kind live their lives this way. They instill something in their families that cannot be matched by school teachings alone. It cannot be matched by simple real-world experience after graduating from high school or college. And it certainly can’t be found in a book. It can only come by watching someone who has honor and a respect for what they do that one can’t help but want to experience the same thing.

In his death, Grandpa Warren left behind many people who cared greatly for him. People came from all over the state of Michigan to celebrate his life. When people say farmers should get together and cooperate on things, I know this is one part of that. I was amazed and honored to see so many industry members come to say farewell to one man. By being the man he was, my grandfather managed to get all the important people from our state’s fruit industry in one room something that is difficult to do during the year. I think he’d probably appreciate that and probably even find some humor in it.

If there were a way to get all the people together from one state’s ag industry without someone dying, the state of agriculture in our country would be better for it. There must be a way to get people to cooperate on things and address the important issues as one group to work together on the issues facing this country’s agriculture.

For the potato industry, the United potato cooperatives are a great step in the right direction. And the work of the U.S. Potato Board and the National Potato Council, as highlighted in the CEO Sound Off, complements those growers’ efforts. But growers all over the country need to continue to step up and move the potato industry into the future.

I’ve seen that what starts with one man and his love for his industry can spread and touch hundreds of people. Now, the only thing to do is find a way to make it work while the person and the industry is still alive.

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75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
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