SAN DIEGO -- William Winston Deardorff Jr., a prominent third-generation produce grower and chairman of the California Strawberry Commission, died Feb. 13 after suffering a heart attack during the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association convention here. Deardorff was 58 at the time of his death. An avid sailer, he died while racing a sailboat.
Deardorff was secretary and past president of the family-owned Deardorff-Jackson Co., Oxnard, Calif., a major grower and shipper of strawberries, tomatoes and celery.
One of his major accomplishments was in leading his company to be the first in California to ship strawberries on recyclable pallets, according to a company official. At the time of his death, he was involved with the Strawberry Commission's pallet committee in an effort to get other California growers to adopt the same practice.
In addition to the commission, Deardorff had served in leadership roles with the California Tomato Board and UFFVA. He also was active within his community and served as a board member on the Santa Barbara Youth Foundation, which teaches children how to sail. Deardorff is survived by his three sons, Scott, James and William 3rd.; his mother, Charlotte; a brother, Thomas; a grandson; two daughters-in-law and a companion, Charlotte Valentine.