Robert Victor Antle, an industry pioneer who was the patriarch of the Antle family and a founding member of Tanimura & Antle Inc., died Aug. 3 at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital with his family at his side. He was 78.
Mr. Antle was born Nov. 10, 1935, in Watsonville, CA, to Lester (Bud) and Delores (Polly) Antle. While a student in 1949, he joined his father, Bud Antle, and grandfather, Lester Antle, at the family's lettuce harvest operation.During this time, he worked as a loader, met the Tanimura family and developed the relationships that eventually led to the formation of Tanimura & Antle Inc.
After graduating from Stanford, his first job was directing the company's carrot business, Antle Carrots. He then moved into sales and marketing, eventually becoming the general sales manager.
In the mid-1960s, he relocated to the East Coast to develop House of Bud, a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables. Under his leadership and direction, House of Bud opened facilities in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Brussels, Belgium.
In 1972, after his father Bud Antle died at age 58, Mr. Antle became chief executive officer of all Antle entities. After six years of further developing and growing these businesses, he merged the Bud Antle companies with Castle & Cooke Inc. (now Dole Food Co. Inc.) and joined its senior management. He served on the Castle & Cooke board of directors until 1982.
After his departure from Castle & Cooke, Mr. Antle, along with his sons, Rick and Mike, formed Tanimura & Antle with George Tanimura and his brothers, Charlie, Johnny, Tommy and Bobby and nephews, Gary and Keith.
This partnership joined the Antles' strong packing and shipping expertise with the Tanimuras' growing expertise. Mr. Antle and George Tanimura became co-chairmen of the board when the partnership formalized and the two families combined more than 50 years of mutual friendship, respect and experience to create Tanimura & Antle.
Mr. Antle was a great leader and mentor to so many in the company and industry. The success of Tanimura & Antle can be attributed to his appreciation for the company's employees and his belief in their abilities.
Mr. Antle is credited with implementing several major produce industry initiatives, such as wrapping fresh vegetables in the field (1960), developing distribution centers for the introduction of wrapped lettuce and other source packaged fruits and vegetables (1965), and producing crop transplants (1970). More recently, he focused on Immigration reform and the Monterey County and California water crisis.
Mr. Antle was the recent recipient of the Grower-Shipper Association's E.E. (Gene) Harden Award for Lifetime Achievement in Central Coast Agriculture, which celebrated his lasting and significant contributions to agriculture as well as his extensive and longtime generosity to many philanthropic and educational institutions and endeavors throughout the Monterey County community.
In 2009, Mr. Antle was awarded the Ben Heller Award by the Center for Community Advocacy for his courage and leadership in supporting farm workers. In 2013, the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council of the Boy Scouts honored him with The Growing of Future Leaders Award.
Mr. Antle was co-chairman of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute; president of Southern Arizona Ranch Co. LLC; president of Pinnacalitos Chalone LP; past president of the Presidents Council at California State University Monterey Bay; and founding president of Central Coast Water Quality Preservation Inc. He also actively supported the University of Arizona.
In March 2005, Mr. Antle was appointed to the California State Senate Commission of Agricultural Worker Housing & Health. He was a recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from California State University-Monterey Bay, and the Community Foundation for Monterey County honored both Mr. Antle and his wife, Sue, with the 2010 Distinguished Trustee Award.
One of his proudest accomplishments was the establishment of the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library at California State University-Monterey Bay. This library serves as the centerpiece for the emerging campus and as the social and intellectual hub of the university. He felt strongly that this was the perfect vehicle for the families to give back to the community in a lasting way.
Mr. Antle is survived by his wife, Sue Antle; his brother, Kenneth Antle; his sons, Rick L. (Tonya) Antle and Mike V. (Cass) Antle; and his twin daughters, Kathy (Vince Ciolino) Della-Rose, Karen (Joseph) Hebl; and 21 grandchildren and a great-grandson.
A celebration of life ceremony was scheduled for Monday Aug. 11 at the CSUMB World Theater. In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests that donations be made directly to one of Mr. Antle's favorite charities/organizations: The Bob Antle Scholarship Fund, c/o CSUMB 100 Campus Center, Seaside, CA, 93955; The Salvation Army of Monterey, 1491 Contra Costa St, Seaside, CA, 93955; or the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, 100 Campus Center, Building 86E, CSUMB, Seaside, CA, 93955.