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Zespri Operations Manager Jason Donaldson Dies At 46

Jason Donaldson
Mr. Jason Donaldson

Mr. Jason Donaldson, operations manager for the Americas for Zespri North America, died unexpectedly on March 22 while on a business trip overseas. He was 46.

“We are devastated by the unexpected passing of a great colleague and friend,” said Ben Hughes, GM-Americas for Orange County, California-based Zespri. “Jason brought a contagious energy and enthusiasm to work each day and was liked and admired by everyone that worked with him. Most importantly, Jason was a devoted husband and very proud father who was very involved in his kids’ lives.”

Mr. Donaldson had a  successful career in the food industry. He was recruited to be the operations manager for Zespri Americas, where he formed a team and made a step-change in the capability of Zespri operations function in the region, according to the company. Prior to joining Zespri, He spent more than 20 years in operations management in a variety of food and beverage categories ranging from carbonated beverages to sushi as well as earning his MBA.

Mr. Donaldson is survived by his wife, Melinda, and their three children, Jake (13), Jenna (11), and Hank (7). Donations to help the family with unforeseen financial burdens can be made at a GoFundMe page established to help.

Funeral and memorial arrangements have not been made public.

Zespri International exports kiwifruit to 59 countries. Based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, Zespri is 100 percent owned by current or past New Zealand kiwifruit growers, and employs about 500 people in New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the Americas. On behalf of 2,500 growers in New Zealand and 1,200 growers based elsewhere, Zespri manages kiwifruit innovation and supply management, distribution management and marketing of Zespri Green, Zespri SunGold and Zespri Organic.

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Renee Sexton

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  • I am Jason’s mother, his father and I would like to thank everyone at Zespri for your kindness and caring for our son.
    He really loved working for Zespri, he talked so much about it all the time, he was very proud to work there.
    Jason died doing the work he loved, he was so driven to be the best he could be and still be a great father and husband.
    We will all miss him more than words can say, are hearts are broken forever.
    Thank you so much
    David & Lavona Donaldson

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