February 19, 2015

Paul Couture, Innovator and Couture Farms Patriarch, Passes Away at 97

Western Growers regretfully announces the death of former board member and Couture Farms patriarch, Paul Couture, who passed away on February 2, 2015, at the age of 97.  Paul was born in Modesto, California, on January 13, 1918, into a farming family and was raised on a small farm at the edge of town (his dad shipped the family’s first grapes in 1926).  He attended Modesto High School and Modesto Junior College for a year before moving on to U.C. Davis where he was elected student body president.  Couture was married for 71 years to his wife Charlotte with whom he had four children: Suzanne, Steve, Christopher and Corinne.  Sadly, Corinne (a.k.a. Cori), also recently passed away on January 6, 2015.   Memorial services are being planned in March to honor both Paul and Cori.  

While Couture’s family and friends mourn his loss, they are also celebrating his full life and the legacy of a man who was considered an innovator, inventor and respected farmer.  His son Steve said he leaves a remarkable legacy, both as a man and in the agriculture industry.  “When he came out of college, he was very well-rounded.  He loved reading and music — especially jazz — and also of course, loved to farm,” Steve fondly recalls.  “He was always improving the layout of our packing sheds and spent time inventing and modifying other equipment.” 

Couture Farms is a family partnership and is based in Kettleman City, California.  The company grows melons, asparagus, almonds, pistachios and pomegranates.  In its early days, the Couture family dehydrated and shipped large emperor grapes to Europe; however at the start of World War II, that operation ceased and the family instead moved into carrots, melons and other crops. The carrot operation supplied almost half of the dehydrated carrots to the U.S. Army in the Pacific theater.        

Western Growers Executive Vice President Matt McInerney said, “Paul and his company have enjoyed a lengthy history with Western Growers.  A leader and legend in the melon industry, he was also an innovator whose contributions will long be remembered.  He will be missed.”

Couture Farms has been a member of WG since 1946 and Paul served as a WG Board member in 1956-58, 1960-64, 1968 and 1971-76.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the California Agriculture Leadership Program.