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Pundit’s Mailbag – 
Mother’s Day Edition Strikes A Chord: 
'It Made Me Review My Role As A Mother, Grandmother And Great Grandmother'
'It Will Cause Me To Say Things To My Mother'
We All Need To Seize The Opportunity To Speak Before It Is Too Late

Our special Mother’s Day Edition — highlighting a speech Ken Whitacre gave on the occasion of his mother’s 80th birthday celebration — was titled, Blood From A Turnip: How A Mother’s Love Can Transform The Life Of Her Child, and it moved many to write:

From mothers themselves:

This is a THANK YOU for sharing Ken’s Mothers’ day tribute.

It really made me review my role as a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

What a joyful and remarkable woman.

Again. . . .

Sincere thanks.

—Dr. Frieda [Frieda Caplan]
Frieda’s Inc.
Los Alamitos, California

To daughters (who are mother’s too!):

I woke up this sunny Mother’s Day, made some coffee and read the Perishable Pundit .

I’m sure I met Ken’s mother at Jim’s son’s Bar Mitzvah – but now I know her so much better.  That was an ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL tribute to his mom.  Gave me real insights into Ken as well.

And thanks to Jim for sharing it via the Perishable Pundit.  It always strikes me how I only know one dimension of so many people.  You know, I may know the person, but not how many siblings they have. I may think I know a person, and then, at a later date learn about some tragedy or life changing experience they have had. 

And now, I know that Ken has 4 siblings, that his father died 30 years ago and that his mom is inspiring and amazing.  And that she truly shaped Ken into the generous, giving person he is.

Happy Mother’s Day…and I know you and Ken are both such wonderful sons and husbands, that you will make sure the women in your life feel appreciated and loved today.

—Karen B. Caplan
President & CEO
Frieda’s, Inc.
Los Alamitos, California

To captains of the industry who have been at the very pinnacle of American commerce:

Just want to tell you I loved the 80th birthday speech about Ken’s mother. It will cause me to say some things to my mother today when I call her.

Ken’s speech reminded me of a group exercise I did years ago. The assignment was to come prepared to give the speech you hope your children would give about you at your 80th birthday party.

Very insightful exercise.

While Ken’s mother would never write those things about herself, his comments were heartwarming and special. Thanks for sharing them with the world.

Dave Dillon
Former President/CEO
The Kroger Company
Cincinnati, Ohio

Some people had short, to the point, things to say:

Love, love, love this! Thank you Ken Whitacre & Jim Prevor for sharing this. ‘How My Mother’s Love Changed My Life.”

—Kimberly Flores
Marketing Director
Seald Sweet International
Vero Beach, Florida

And some were prompted to say more:

I enjoyed the Whitacre tribute for Mother’s Day.

My mother was born on a dairy in Arizona. As a girl she milked cows, then as a married family woman, she raised 2 children (I came along later) she packed lettuce in an ‘ice shed’ when lettuce was packed and then iced for shipping in railcars, and weighed cotton my father farmed near Phoenix — before machine harvesting in the 1950s..

When my father was farming lettuce south of Willcox, Arizona, in the 1960s, my mother took a job at a bank in town so that I could get to school the 21 miles (including 6 miles of dirt road) and participate in sports and school activities until I could drive myself.

My parents never missed a high school football or basketball game — home or away during my high school career, and my father came to town to see as many baseball games as he could although he was busy with the farm every spring of the year.

My mother ‘got it done’, all of it, and with love and affection.

Here is another great piece about mothers from the Los Angeles Times, You can’t  put a price on a mother’s love. Her work’s another matter— if you have the time to read it. It has a good tongue-in-cheek message.

—Richard A. Eastes
Marketing Consultant
Grower Relations Adviser
Rixx Intl. Marketing Co. Inc.
Visalia, California

Some pieces brought warnings that they took from the piece and cautioned us to speak up while someone is there to listen:

Just read Ken Whitacre’s tribute to his Mother in the Perishable Pundit.  What a nice way to honor your Mother on her birthday!  What is really great is that she had the opportunity to actually hear him say what is in his heart.

Often we wait until it’s too late to do so.  Well done!  

—Terry Humfeld
Executive Director
The Cranberry Institute
Newark, Delaware

Others caught that it was an ode to a friendship as well as celebration of a mother:

I have just read Jim’s tribute to his friendship with Ken, and his tribute to his Mother.

Wow! No other words — really, none. Well done.

This Pundit was truly remarkable on so many levels.

—Lisa Packer
Senior Vice President
Star Group Synegrated Communications
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Some just wanted the Pundit and Ken to know they were reading:

I enjoyed reading your article and Ken’s speech commemorating his mother’s birthday. What a fitting tribute from Ken.

—Mike Mascari
Indianapolis Fruit Company
Indianapolis, Indiana

Others thought it elevating:

A very poignant column.  I read it before church and was very touched by it.

—Jim Carr 
The Produce Reporter Company
Carol Stream, Illinois

Some related to the story:

I just wanted to tell Ken how much I enjoyed his ‘speech’ from his mother’s birthday party that was published for Mother’s Day in the Pundit.

I also grew up in a similar background; father died young; and somehow these mothers held it all together for us.

—Floyd Avillo
RLB Food Distributors
West Caldwell, New Jersey

Some were moved to imagine the scene:

What a wonderful tribute to Ken’s Mom!  The world would — indeed — be a better place if everyone acted more like Mary Whitacre!

Of all the gifts she may have received on her 80th birthday, I am certain that his speech was amongst her most treasured. 

As I read Ken’s words, I pictured a room full of family and I envisioned the young people listening intently to his challenge — to heed the lessons that Mary Whitacre had taught in a life defined by sacrifice, perseverance, hard-work, and an unwavering devotion to her children. 

Ken’s words — and Mary’s life — has been and continues to be an inspiration.

Thank-you for sharing them.  Sincerely, I feel enriched now knowing more about Mary Whitacre.

May she continue to be blessed with good health and happiness in the years ahead.

—Jim Bartelson
Senior Vice President
Phoenix Media Network, Inc.
Boca Raton, Florida

Some people speak simply:

Jim and Ken,


—John Shelford

Some were moved to introspection:

Thanks so much to Ken for sharing the story of his Mom. Many of Ken’s comments hit home to me in a big way.

Sitting in the Pittsburgh airport at 9:30 am on Mother’s Day truly made me stop for a moment, take a breath and say thanks Mom. 

—Howard Nager
Vice President Marketing
Domex Superfresh Growers
Yakima, Washington

Some thought of the children:

What a great message to the next generation!  What a wonderful and giving Mom Ken has. 

Ken’s mom’s silent but effective example to her kids and the community around and the list of accolades to her from the speech will resonate in many peoples’ minds and hearts.

How truly beautiful – and what a great 80th gift to a mother from her son.

—Priscilla Lleras
Peruvian Asparagus Importer’s Association

Some sent it to their mothers – who happens to be the executive administrative director of the Hunts Point Market!:

Wonderful speech by Ken. I flagged it for my mom to read.

Thanks for sharing.

—Harold Gordon
Jones Day

New York, New York

Some wanted to know still more:

What a great Mom and Son. For the 85th I want to know the story of how this incredible woman influenced the educational path that led Ken to Cornell?

Although a different generation, my Mom was a parallel, although in an agricultural community. But my dad lived to 81.

Congratulations to Jim for having shared Ken’s great story.

—Dave Diver
Former Vice President of Produce
Hannaford Bros.

And Mama Pundit saw the blessing in it:

How many mothers are fortunate enough to have their sons give this beautiful speech on their 80th birthday?

Mary Whitacre did a good job, so I wish her a Wonderful Mother’s Day and a happy birthday from the Prevor family!

— Roz Prevor


The Mother’s Day holiday has passed but the day is always right to show mothers, fathers and others important in your life how much they mean to you.

Parents are primary among these, perhaps because there is a biblical injunction to honor them, but perhaps also because of the reality of the situation that most do their best, guided by not much more than love.

When the Jr. Pundit Primo, aka William, sometimes starts to complain, we explain the truth: That we were there when he was born, and as the doctor rushed him off for his APGAR score, we waited, hopeful that the instruction booklet would come next.

Alas it never came. It is a good thought to remember as we think of our mothers and, with Father’s Day approaching, our fathers too.

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