In Las Vegas at the United Fresh Convention, The Packer, a trade newspaper for the produce industry, presented its “Man For All Seasons” award this year, honoring a person for achievements that transcend the more typical “Man of the Year” designation.
The honoree was Al Vangelos, the CEO at Sun World, and we were tickled pink that Al should get such recognition.
Just after New Year’s, the whole Pundit clan was out in California and we visited with Al and his wife, Mary:
During a recent quick trip to California to visit the Pundit’s sister and celebrate the Pundit parents’ 51st wedding anniversary, the Pundit, Mrs. Pundit and the Jr. Pundits, Primo and Segundo — aka William, age 7 and Matthew, age 5 — all had a delightful visit with Al and Mary Vangelos.
Al is sagacious and Mary is a woman of omnifarious kindness. She extended the Pundit an invitation to visit the Vangelos home back in 1990 when Al and the Pundit — except we weren’t the Pundit yet! — were working day and night to help the old United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association prevail over troubled times.
It took 19 years to make the visit happen but, as they say, the longer the waiting, the sweeter the kiss. And, of course, Mary had extended the invitation to a single guy and got a whole family. Still and all, it was an unseasonably cold day in California but we were warmed that day by the ember of friendship and mutual respect that has glowed more brightly with the passing years.
We won’t bother recounting Al’s bio… those who know it don’t need it and those who don’t wouldn’t believe it anyway. Suffice it to say, there are more chapters in this man’s life than in any book since War and Peace.
It happens to be that we work every day under the watchful eye of Al Vangelos, as we have a picture on the wall — sent by Anne Day, a longtime United staffer — at the opening of The Retail Institute, a program Pundit sister publication PRODUCE BUSINESS had developed. It was taken February 3, 1991, when Al was Chairman of United, and we had been asked to help reinvigorate United with some new ideas.
It was 18 years ago, and Al seems no worse for wear today despite a career that took him from Russia to Canada and turned him into a road warrior commuting across California.
Of course Al has always had one secret weapon… he has had Mary, and when we think of Al, despite the official photo over the Pundit desk, we think of Al and Mary, all smiling, as they danced at The Plaza Hotel in New York City on the occasion of this Pundit’s wedding.
Al is a fortunate man. He has a full life, with a wife, six children and productive work. It says a lot about someone that so many people have sought his help over the years. We congratulate him on winning the award but he was an inspiration to us long before he did and for many things that go far beyond the professional scope for which such awards are given.
The Greeks, we understand, say Sygharitiria, pronounced sin-ga-ree-TEE-ria, for congratulations and that we most heartily extend to Al, Mary and the whole Vangelos family.