It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Neal Jack on December 15, 2020, at 97 years old. Neal was an industry icon, pioneering innovator in the Imperial Valley and a leading force behind Jack Bros., a founding member of Western Growers Association.
Neal captained Jack Bros. for nearly four decades, putting virtually every dollar earned during his tenure into improving the ground. Additionally, as a World War II and the Korean War veteran, Neal radically modernized farming by bringing many of the innovations used in the military back to the ranch.
For example, Jack Bros. became one of the first farming companies in the Imperial Valley to have car-to-car radios—the radios very similar to the ones Neal used in reconnaissance missions during the war—to communicate with employees in the field. He also brought in one of the first drivable service trucks used to service equipment in the field. In the mid-1970s, Neal tried wheel line sprinklers, and a few years later was among the first to put in buried drip.
Neal was an advocate for water conservation and served on numerous influential boards including the Imperial Irrigation Board from 1973-1981, the California State Water Resources Control Board under Governor George Deukmejian and the USDA Board at the Agriculture Research Station. Additionally, he played a significant role on the Western Growers Board of Directors as well as steered irrigation priorities as an active member on the Water Committee.
“We are saddened by the news of Neal’s passing,” said Dave Puglia, president & CEO of Western Growers. “But we are comforted in the knowledge that Neal leaves behind an indelible legacy that will continue to shape the fresh produce industry for generations to come.”
Neal was married to Virgene Jack until her passing. Neal is survived by his 4 children, 13 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren. To learn more about the life and accomplishments of Neal Jack and Jack Bros., read “Forward-Thinking Leadership Propels WG Founding Member Jack Bros. into 100 Years of Success.”
Western Growers wishes to extend its deepest sympathies to the Jack family during this difficult time.