Oregon

Well-Known Northwest Apple Entrepreneur Dies

Northwest Public Radio | Dec. 30, 2008 7:59 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:12 a.m. | Richland, WA

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By Anna King

Northwest fruit growers are morning the death of an industry icon. Tom Mathison was the founder of Stemilt Growers based in Wenatchee, Washington.

It’s one of the largest fruit growing and shipping operations in the country. Correspondent Anna King has this remembrance.


You know those tiny stickers on apples? Tom Mathison was the first guy to use them on a commercial scale.

That’s just one of many examples of how Mathison changed his industry.

He helped create higher quality products, more sophisticated marketing and better prices for Northwest fruit farmers.

When most people were using loads of chemicals on fruit, Mathison was beginning to experiment and develop an organic program. And he also believed in paying his growers a sustainable price for their fruit.

Larry Olsen served on the Washington Apple Commission board with Mathison.

Larry Olsen: “Tom was a visionary, and could see things before other people. What Tom Mathison said carried an awful lot of weight in our industry.”

Mathison mentored his grandson, who has taken over the fruit company. Mathison died from cancer. He was 82.

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