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Passing of David and Jean Warren

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of both David and Jean Warren. David Warren died April 15, 2019, less than a month short of his 103rd birthday. Jean Warren died 8 days prior, at the age of 94.

As founders of Central American Produce, Inc. in 1976, the couple worked tirelessly for years to develop and increase produce imports from Central America. David Warren, who helped pioneer Guatemala’s melon and vegetable exporting industries, gained much satisfaction working in the industry, providing growers with technical knowledge they can use to successfully grow, pack and ship their crops. During a 2016 interview he said “I find the industry is just as exciting now as anytime I’ve been in it. To pack, ship and warehouse products, to get them to where they have great eating qualities and are very beneficial to people, in terms of health, what more fun could you have?”

Although son Michael had taken over the business, David continued to come to the office and provide support until last year. But even though he had stopped coming to the office, he would still call in regularly to get updates from the staff on how things were going.

“The qualities that my father and mother had that made them successful were resilience, persistence, and passion!” Michael Warren said. “They demonstrated this daily in business and personal life. My dad would quote my grandfather to live by the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” He had a recipe for life and he shared it with my mother and the family. The secrets for longevity I observed through my father’s daily routines was to stay connected to family, eat nutritional foods, and exercise regularly. And short phone calls weekly to family and friends just to catch up on what was new and how they were doing. He would eat large volumes of fruits and vegetables all day long – for nutrition to keep the body strong and with a younger look than the years could ever reflect. He generally cared about each and every person, that they would have opportunities to better their lives for the future. Both my parents assisted many people in start-up businesses, educational pursuits and just to help out others with their general needs. Thousands of workers throughout the Americas depend on agriculture to raise families. This was always a driving factor for our own farms as well as working with others. Then there was quality. If it cost another $200 an acre to produce a better product then what was that? $.25 a box to have a better product. He had to give customers the best product. He was a mentor to man and a tormentor to a few as he always pushed excellence in every pursuit. That was the bar he set and continually raised higher and higher.”

“They kept up with world events, the stock market and what forces would drive it, they loved watching sports and old movies – especially musicals. The lived life simply and real life events are what excited them about the world. My father would watch Shark Tank. He liked to hear what creative ideas were being pitched and how others responded to them. My parents were examples of how to live life and appreciate what is really important.“

David and Jean Warren are survived by four children: Wendy Warren (Jim Calvert) , Jody Miller, Susan (Tom) Drake and Michael (Janice) Warren, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A time for remembrance as they requested is being planned for later this month.

Biography of David N Warren

David Warren born May 8, 1916 in Fall River Massachusetts, son of Nathan and Jennie Warren. He graduated the University of Rhode Island in 1938. David’s passion then was to travel. His father, who had a wholesale produce business in Providence, Rhode Island, bought him a red convertible and asked him to travel to California to buy melons. He then went to Washington to buy pears from Harry & David orchards. From there David went to Texas and Louisiana to buy strawberries at auction and made his way through the Carolinas buying peaches. David joined the Coast Guard in 1941. His brother Harold was in the Army and brother Bill was in the Navy. David left the Coast Guard in 1945 as a Lieutenant. Upon return from the war David Warren still wanted to see the world. Nathan Warren had other plans for him. He told David that he and his mother were going to Florida for the winter and left the business in David’s care.

David Warren and Jean Burroughs (daughter of Harold and Hannah Burroughs) were married on June 25, 1949. They would have celebrated their 70th anniversary this June.

David then worked in the family business running three terminal market operations throughout New England   with his dad and brothers. In 1961, Warren served on United Fresh’s advisory board, and he was chairman of the Food Produce Center in Providence. At 56 years of age David sold the terminal market businesses and relocated to South Florida.

The beginnings of Central American Produce started over 40 years ago, in 1972, when David Warren began working with the U.S. Agency for International Development (“AID”) as an agricultural consultant. From 1972 to 1976, under AID auspices, Mr. Warren lived in Haiti and Central America, pioneering the development of non-traditional fresh fruit and vegetable programs, emphasizing the export market. During his tenure with AID, he was instrumental in the elimination of med fly and tariff duty restraints associated with the imports of melons.

David Warren introduced new crops to Guatemala during this period, including snopeas and other vegetables, as well as new melon varieties, such as the “Mayan Sweet Melon” He also started a year-around specialty vegetable program in the Guatemalan Highlands that continues to this day. In recognition of David’s special work and involvement in the country of Guatemala, he was presented an award by President Arzu of Guatemala in November, 2000. The award states: “Pionero incansable desde 1972 para innovar, crear, desarrollar e involucrar a miles de Guatemaltecos en la actividad exportadora y en el conocimiento del mercado mundial”, which translates to: “Tireless pioneer since 1972 to innovate, create, develop and involve thousands of Guatemalans in the export activity and in the knowledge of the world market.

Upon leaving AID, David decided to meet the challenge of producing and marketing these products by using his experience as a consultant, and thus directly participate in production and marketing programs. As a result, Central American Produce was organized in 1976 in South Florida. The first farms in Guatemala were known as CAPCO.

Since then David Warren has pioneered the melon industry throughout Central America, mentoring growers in the region and sharing farming, packing and shipping expertise. Today, the region of Central America is the primary supplier of winter melons to North America and Europe.

David always considered marketing to be his expertise, starting with quality at the farm level and ultimately delivering to the consumer great tasting and nutritional produce. This was instilled in our company values and every relationship we had, and is still a core value. It was that simple.