Bob Carey, 82, former president of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), died on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, in Seaford, Del.
Carey, who led PMA from 1958 to 1996, took the fledgling association from near-bankruptcy, with fewer than 100 members focused on produce packaging, to a vertically integrated association of thousands focused on marketing. Carey’s vision of bringing buyers and sellers together positioned PMA to become the worldwide association it is today.
“I was privileged to work with Bob from the time he hired me in 1983 until his retirement in 1996,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA’s CEO. “He was my mentor and my dear friend. His insights and advice when he was my boss and after he retired have been invaluable. Bob’s real genius was getting the best out of everyone around him – members and staff – and that’s become a core part of PMA’s culture.”
PMA established the Robert L. Carey Leadership Award, which is presented to a deserving industry leader at the organization's Fresh Summit show each year in honor of his outstanding volunteer leadership skills and commitment to helping the trade group achieve its goals.
Aside from lauding his leadership and vision, Silbermann praised Carey’s “engaging personality, compassion, humor and empathy that endeared him to all those around him.”
Carey graduated from Bridgeville (Del.) High School in 1949 and obtained his degree in agricultural economics in 1953 from the University of Delaware. Throughout his undergraduate studies, Carey served in the ROTC and Army National Guard and was called to active duty shortly after graduation. He served four years with the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict before returning to Army Reserve status. Carey then went on to earn a master's degree in business from the University of Delaware, and after 38 years of service, retired from thereserves with the rank of colonel in 1991.
In addition to his 38-year career with Newark, Del.-based PMA, Carey was an active board member of the American Society of Association Executives, and past president of, and actively involved in, his school fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau.
In his free time, Carey enjoyed playing golf, reading, spending time with family and rooting for his favorite sports teams: the Phillies, Eagles and the University of Delaware Blue Hens.
Memorial contributions may be made in Carey’s name to the Delmarva Teen Challenge, PO Box 1271, Seaford, DE 19973. Addtional information is available here.