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Russell Boyd, a longtime produce veteran whose love of teaching and mentoring was well known to those who knew him, died suddenly Dec. 28 at his home in Fullerton, CA. He was 62.

One of Mr. Boyd's last public appearances was as a panelist at a salad bar conference hosted by the United Fresh Produce Association and the Fresh Produce & Floral Council in mid-December. The seminar appearance was apparently indicative of his produce career.

boydRussell Boyd"He loved to teach," said David Sapia, executive vice president and partner at Southern California's Sunrise Produce, which is where Mr. Boyd worked for the past seven years. "He was a real asset for us. He handled corporate management but also loved to conduct handling and receiving seminars and mentoring sales people."

In fact, Mr. Sapia, who knew Mr. Boyd for more than 20 years, said the longtime produce man took him on his very first sales call when the two were at JC Produce in West Sacramento in the early 1990s.

"He was a great guy and a great mentor," said Mr. Sapia.

Mr. Boyd grew up in Fullerton and studied music and theatre arts at Cal State-Fullerton. He married his high school sweetheart, Meryl Wilkinson, in 1970 and continued to reside in Fullerton for most of his life.

He began his career in restaurant management in the mid 1970s but transitioned to sales in the produce distribution business in 1981, joining G&G Produce in Los Angeles, which was a well-known foodservice specialty house.

He remained with that firm before joining JC Produce in 1993, which is where he met Mr. Sapia.

"I left there a few years later, but we always stayed in touch," said Mr. Sapia. "When JC started having some difficulties, I grabbed Russell up and brought him over here."

Mr. Boyd was a great family man, who raised five children to be active and sports enthusiasts. For his part, he coached youth baseball and softball and went on to play men's softball for 25 years. He also could be seen umpiring adult softball games throughout Orange County, CA. His favorite vacation spot was in Maui and he planned to retire there someday.

Mr. Sapia said that Mr. Boyd had heart bypass surgery last year, which led him down a path of healthy eating and good exercise.

"He embraced his second chance and was always paying attention to what he was eating and even having apps on his phone to keep track," said Mr. Sapia.

Mr Boyd is survived by his wife, five children and five grandchildren, as well as his father and several siblings.