Phil Colson, former president of C&E Farms, headquartered in Cheriton, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, died Feb. 14 at his winter home on Marco Island, FL, following a battle with emphysema. He was 76.
Mr. Colson had a long history as a grower-shipper in both the fresh market and processed vegetable industry. Even though he raised a wide variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, his main cropwas green beans. Mr. Colson's passion with green beans dated back to the mid-1960s when he bought his first mechanical bean harvesters.
In 1986, he started C&E Farms with his business partner Lester Erlemeier. Along with the help and support of Dot, his wife of 56 years, he guided C&E Farms into becoming a premier U.S. grower-packer-shipper of green beans. He was instrumental in pioneering the hydrocooling of green beans and setting industry standards.
Additionally, he introduced new green bean varieties into the market, such as the "Bronco" type, which is a dark green bean that is now preferred by consumers.
At the time of his retirement in 2005, C&E Farms had established processing plants in Virginia and Florida. The company was processing more than 750,000 bushels of green beans from 5,000 acres with growers from Florida to Pennsylvania.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Colson is survived by sons Bob and Mark, daughters Donna and Denise, as well as five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Contributions in his memory can be made to Cape Charles Christian School, 237 Tazewell Ave., Suite 3, Cape Charles, VA, 23310, or Hospice Palliative Care of the Eastern Shore, 165 Market Street, Onancock, VA 23417.