U.S.: Shipley Sales founder passes away

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U.S.: Shipley Sales founder passes away

Robert Shipley, founder of Shipley Sales and Viva label melons, has passed away at the age of 83.

A 60-year produce industry veteran who had remained active in his company, Shipley died on Monday (May 22) surrounded by family.

He was raised in Phoenix, Arizona and had an early interest in farming. Following two years on active duty in Korea and an honorable discharge, he founded Shipley Sales in 1957 in Nogales.

He was a pioneer during the early days of the Mexican produce export industry, being the first to commercially produce the seedless watermelon and among the first to sell vegetables with individual labels in branded boxes, according to a release.

Today, Shipley Sales is a major grower, marketer and worldwide shipper of melons, grapes and asparagus from Mexico.

"Bob was a visionary with a dream and he kept his nose to the grindstone and never stopped,” said longtime friend and business associate, Chuck Ciruli, Sr.

“He developed the melon deal in Mexico and saw the globalization of the Mexican industry before many people did. I have many fond memories of Bob over the last 50 years and his contributions to the industry will be remembered for years to come."

Shipley was known as a family man, animal lover, and farmer, the release added. He was also a licensed pilot and spent many years flying to fields in Mexico, auctions, family gatherings, and an occasional vacation.

Having worked alongside their father for over 30 years, his three children, Reed, Lee, and Mary said they would continue his legacy at Shipley Sales.

“According to my dad, his greatest accomplishments were raising a large, tight-knit family and succeeding in business,” said his daughter, Mary.

“He truly believed in the power of education, determination, and never taking no for an answer.”

Shipley is mourned by family, friends, and the Nogales, AZ community at large. He will continue to give back to the community through his family foundation.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 28, at 3:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Nogales, AZ. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory can be made to St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic, Nogales, or the Human Society of Santa Cruz County, Nogales


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