Written by THE BUSINESS JOURNAL STAFF
Rob O’Rourke, vice president of RJO Produce Marketing in Fresno, passed away Thursday at the age of 54 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.
O’Rourke spent nearly 40 years working in procurement, inspection, sales and marketing for the produce industry.
O’Rourke’s career started in 1979 when, at age 16, he drove to Bakersfield to pick up a box of grapes for a neighbor. The trip was the beginning of a lifelong career in the produce industry.
O’Rourke started his career at Produce West, Inc., based in Salinas, and started RJO Produce Marketing in 1993 with his brother, John, the current president of the company. In 2004, O’Rourke left RJO to become the vice president of produce and floral for Illinois-based Topco Associates, LLC, a multi-billion-dollar grocery cooperative serving 54 retail members throughout the country.
In 2007, he returned to RJO as vice president of business development and gained a reputation for innovation.
“Rob would constantly challenge us to think differently, yet he insisted we never compromise our core values,” Fred Valentino, East Coast operations director for RJO, said in a press release.
“We will honor Rob’s legacy of high standards, of professionalism and customer service,” John O’Rourke said in the release. “Those are things we worked hard to establish and will most assuredly uphold those going forward.”
Rob O’Rourke received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Fresno State University. He was passionately involved with and supported Catholic Charities, Boy Scouts of America, Knights of Columbus, Fresno State, the San Joaquin Country Club and served on the membership committee for the Produce Marketing Association.
He is survived by his wife, Monica, as well as their children, Katie, Megan, Ryan and Kevin; his parents, Ron and Kathi O’Rourke; brothers, Rick, Michael and John; and many in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Remembrances may be sent to: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno, 149 N. Fulton St., Fresno, Calif. 93701. Donations also can be made to establish a scholarship through RJO Produce in Rob O’Rourke’s honor by sending them to the Ag One Foundation at 2910 E. Barstow Ave, Fresno, Calif. 93740.