Former Longtime Sunkist Leader Passes Away


Sunkist Growers’ former president and CEO, Mr. Russell Hanlin Sr., died Tuesday, April 11. He was 84. Sunkist Growers is a citrus marketing cooperative, founded in 1893, which is owned by and operated for thousands of family farmers growing citrus in California and Arizona.

Mr. Hanlin served as president and CEO of Sunkist Growers for 20 years and was elected president emeritus upon his retirement in November 1998. Prior to becoming president, Mr. Hanlin served Sunkist in several capacities at the international citrus marketing cooperative, including VP of the Products Group and international advertising director.

Mr. Hanlin also was a leader in global trade during his career, appointed to four presidential commissions by three U.S. presidents for his rich experience in the sector. These appointments include: President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiation by Presidents Carter and Reagan, President’s Export Council by President Reagan, and President’s Commission on Executive Exchange by President George H. W. Bush.

His commitment to global trade also was honored abroad. Mr. Hanlin was inducted into The World Trade Hall of Fame for his work in opening overseas markets to American products and received the Maple Leaf Award for promoting trade and understanding between the U.S. and Canada. He also served as chairman of the Los Angeles Vancouver Sister City Committee. Additionally, because of his commitment to trade activity in Japan and his service to The Japan America Society of Southern California, where he was chairman emeritus, the Emperor of Japan awarded Mr. Hanlin The Order of The Rising Sun with Gold Rays & Neck Ribbon. The order originated in 1875 as the first national decoration for meritorious service and distinguished achievement by the Japanese government. Mr. Hanlin was recognized for his role in creating a positive business relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

Mr. Hanlin also was involved in his local community and the agricultural industry. For 17 years, he served as a member of the board of trustees for Woodbury University. He also was a director of both the Los Angeles and California Chambers of Commerce. In addition, he served as chairman of The National Council of Agricultural Cooperatives, chairman of United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and member of The U.S./Hong Kong Economic Council.

More recently, Mr. Hanlin served as chairman of Progressive Beverages Inc. and The Old Pasadena Management District.

Mr. Hanlin is survived by his wife Norma, who lives in Pasadena, California, and an extended family of three adult children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

About The Author

A former newspaper editor and publisher who has handled digital duties for The Shelby Report since 2011. She once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.