John “Jack” Leroy Woolf Jr., industry pioneer and prominent Fresno-area farmer, has passed away at the age of 102.
Woolf, who launched Woolf Farming Company in 1974, was among the first to plant almonds and pistachios in California’s Fresno County, a leading commodity that generates billions of dollars in revenue for the region every year.
After graduating from the Woodbury Business College in Los Angeles and serving in the Army during World War II, in which he earned seven battle stars, Woolf returned to California and went to work for Giffen, Inc., a position he would hold for three decades. When Russell Giffen retired in 1974, Woolf and his wife, Bernice, bought some of his farmland and the Woolf Farming Company was born.
While he started out growing cotton, grain and melons, Woolf soon began to diversify, moving into processing tomatoes and tree nuts, all while maintaining a focus on water efficiency. His leadership abilities were sought out on numerous boards, including the Westlands Water District Board of Directors, where he served from 1976 to 1992.
Woolf is widely recognized for his role in helping to transform the agricultural face of the San Joaquin Valley. His legacy will be continued by his wife and six children, including Stuart Woolf, President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing and current Vice Chairman of the Western Growers Board of Directors.
To learn more about the life and accomplishments of Jack Woolf, read his obituary in The Fresno Bee.