Tanimura & Antle Co-Founder Bob Antle Passes Away

Tanimura & Antle co-founder and produce pioneer Robert V. (Bob) Antle died Aug. 3 in Salinas, Calif., with his family at his side.

Mr. Antle was the recent recipient of the Grower-Shipper Association’s E.E. (Gene) Harden Award for Lifetime Achievement in Central Coast Agriculture. This honor celebrated his lasting and significant contributions to agriculture as well as his extensive and longtime generosity to many philanthropic and educational institutions and endeavors throughout the Monterey County community.

While a student in 1949, he joined his father, Bud Antle, and grandfather, Lester Antle, at the family’s lettuce harvest operation. During this time, he worked as a loader, met the Tanimura family and developed the relationships that eventually led to the formation of Tanimura & Antle Inc.

After graduating from Stanford, his first job was directing the company’s carrot business, Antle Carrots. He then moved into sales and marketing, eventually becoming the general sales manager.

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Antle relocated to the East Coast to develop House of Bud, a wholesaler of fruits and vegetables. Under his leadership and direction, House of Bud opened facilities in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Brussels, Belgium.

In 1972, after his father, Bud Antle, passed away at age 58, Bob Antle became CEO of all Antle entities. After six years of further developing and growing these businesses, he merged the Bud Antle companies with Castle & Cooke Inc. (now Dole Food Co. Inc.) and joined its senior management. He served on the Castle & Cooke board of directors until 1982.

After his departure from Castle & Cooke, Bob Antle, along with his sons, Rick and Mike, formed Tanimura & Antle with George Tanimura and his brothers, Charlie, Johnny, Tommy and Bobby, and nephews, Gary and Keith. This partnership joined the Antles’ packing and shipping expertise with the Tanimuras’ growing expertise. Bob Antle and George Tanimura became co-chairmen of the board when the partnership formalized and the two families combined more than 50 years of mutual friendship, respect and experience to create Tanimura & Antle.

Bob Antle was a leader and mentor to many in the company and industry. The success of Tanimura & Antle can be attributed to his appreciation for the company’s employees and his belief in their abilities.

Bob Antle is credited with implementing several major produce industry initiatives such as wrapping fresh vegetables in the field (1960), developing distribution centers for the introduction of wrapped lettuce and other source packaged fruits and vegetables (1965) and producing crop transplants (1970).

In 2009, Mr. Antle was awarded the Ben Heller Award by the Center for Community Advocacy for his courage and leadership in supporting farm workers.

In 2013, the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council of the Boy Scouts honored him with The Growing of Future Leaders Award.

Prior to his passing, he focused on immigration reform and the Monterey County and California water crisis.

Mr. Antle was co-chairman of the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute, president of Southern Arizona Ranch Co. LLC, president of Pinnacalitos Chalone LP, past president of the President’s Council at California State University Monterey Bay and founding president of Central Coast Water Quality Preservation Inc.

He also actively supported the University of Arizona.

In March 2005, Mr. Antle was appointed to the California State Senate Commission of Agricultural Worker Housing and Health.

One of Mr. Antle’s proudest accomplishments was the establishment of the Tanimura & Antle Family Memorial Library at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). This library serves as the centerpiece for the emerging campus and as the social and intellectual hub of the university. Mr. Antle felt strongly that this was the perfect vehicle for the families to give back to the community in a lasting way. He was a recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from CSUMB.

Mr. Antle was born on Nov. 10, 1935, in Watsonville, Calif., to Lester (Bud) and Delores (Polly) Antle.

He met the woman of his dreams while attending Watsonville High School and happily continued a 58-year love affair and marriage to his beloved wife, Sue. Family always came first for him. He was proud of his four children and their spouses and adored his 21 grandchildren and first great-grandson. Time away from work always included supporting his family’s individual endeavors. The Antles opened their home and vacation plans to any family member passing through town or made it available for a family adventure.

The Community Foundation for Monterey County honored both Bob and Sue Antle with the 2010 Distinguished Trustee Award.

Mr. Antle is survived by his wife, Sue Antle; brother, Kenneth Antle, Tucson, Ariz.; sons, Rick L. (Tonya) Antle and Mike V. (Cass) Antle; twin daughters, Kathy (Vince Ciolino) Della-Rose and Karen (Joseph) Hebl, Eau Claire, Wis.; along with his 21 grandchildren and a great-grandson.

A Celebration of Life Ceremony will be held Monday, Aug. 11, at 5 p.m. at the CSUMB World Theater.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests that donations be made directly to one of Mr. Antle’s favorite charities/organizations:

  • The Bob Antle Scholarship Fund, c/o CSUMB, 100 Campus Center, Seaside CA 93955;
  • The Salvation Army of Monterey, 1491 Contra Costa St., Seaside, CA 93955; or
  • The Panetta Institute for Public Policy, 100 Campus Center, Building 86E, CSUMB, Seaside, CA 93955.

About The Author

A 10-year employee of The Shelby Report who writes for and about food. In previous lives, she worked at a police department in Texas and an amusement park in Arkansas. She also was a newspaper publisher for more than a decade. Not sure which of those qualified her for this job.