Ad Astra – Fred Plath ’46

State ag leader Fred Plath dies at 89

Longtime president of Washington Fruit and Produce pushed company to forefront of state industry


State ag leader Fred Plath dies at 89
Dorothy and Fred Plath walk down a stretch of the Yakima Greenway in December, 1994. That section of the Greenway was named the Plath Pathway thanks to a large contribution by the Plaths.
YAKIMA, Wash. — Fred M. Plath, whose leadership helped propel Washington Fruit and Produce Co. of Yakima into a leader in the state fruit industry, died Wednesday (January 19th) at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.
He was 89.
Plath served as president of the family-owned company until his retirement, but remained active as an orchardist.
He was the son of Fred B. Plath, who founded Washington Fruit in 1916 and worked as a teenager at the company on Yakima’s fruit row making wooden boxes.
Plath joined the company full time in 1947 after serving in the military and became its president.
Washington Fruit and Produce is among the largest fruit packers and marketers in the state, selling about 12 million boxes of fruit annually in domestic and international markets. Its operations include a 222,000-square-foot state-of-the-art packing facility on River Road and a series of orchards stretching from the Yakima Valley east to Basin City and south to Hood River, Ore.
Friends and acquaintances described Plath’s grace and kindness, calling his death a loss for the industry and for the Yakima community.
“He was one of the greatest men I have ever known,” said Bill Evans, owner of Cowiche-based Evans Fruit Co. and a contemporary of Plath. “He was helpful to everyone. He would work with you and share the knowledge he had with you. He was a special man.”
John Borton of Borton Fruit Co. of Yakima, another family business that grew with the industry, said Plath was a member of the generation that set the stage for the growth that has occurred in the Washington fruit industry.
“It’s sad that that generation is not going to be with us much longer when they were certainly the major drivers of the family fruit business,” Borton said. “They gave us all a good base.”
Craig Mendenhall of BBM Financial of Yakima said he often had lunch with Plath and other industry leaders at the 26A Club at the former Towne Plaza, now the Red Lion Hotel on East Yakima Avenue.
When asked about the business or the current year’s crop, Mendenhall said Plath was always upbeat.
“He always had a smile on his face. He would say things couldn’t be better and he meant it,” Mendenhall said. “He was a happy guy. He loved what he was doing.”
John Baule, head of the Yakima Valley Museum, recalled Plath’s grace and kindness as well as his devotion to family, but also his business acumen.
“He knew that business. I don’t think anyone grows a business like Washington Fruit without being able to not only be a good businessman but also stay abreast of the times and the changes.”
Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council of Yakima, said Plath was held in high regard in industry circles.
“He laid the foundation of a great fruit industry firm that is one of the most important in our industry,” Schlect said.
The Plath family contri-buted to the three-mile section of the Yakima Greenway that bears their name. He and his wife, Dorothy, also were active in a number of community organizations, including the museum.
He was a member of the Yakima Downtown Rotary Club for more than 60 years.
He is survived by his wife; three sons, Peter Plath, Roderick Plath and Clifford Plath, all of Yakima; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

January Luncheon – Mark Freiberg ’73

Mark Freiberg '73
Mark Freiberg ’73

Mark Freiberg ’73 opened his presentation with some catchy factoids. Last year over one million knee surgeries were performed on dogs in the USA. The worldwide market for canine knee surgeries exceeded $ 1 billion dollars.

Mark reported, that dogs are victims of a form of arthritis that is damaging to their knees and their knee tendons. The traditional treatment involves breaking the bones to realign the knee, and the recovery is multiple months of restricted activity. Mark shared a bit of his motivations that drew him to pursue his degree in veterinary medicine. After being a regional pioneer of emergency hospitals for pets, Mark was an owner member of a pet hospital chain that reached 70 locations before it was purchased. Today Mark spends his time at the Kirkland Animal Hospital where he specializes in a less invasive surgical technique for canine knees.

Mark is among the pioneers of a canine knee surgery that avoids the breaking of bones, and the dogs typical spend three days in the pet hospital before they are able to leave walking on their own. Not only do the dogs recover more rapidly from this new technique, but there are substantial fewer post-operative problems.

Sitting in the crowd to offer an independent veterinary view was Casey Sowell ’01 who is in a veterinary practice in north Seattle. Others of note in the crowd were graduates – Tad Richards ’03 and Shane Richards ’07 — who also spent their high school years in Longview (as did Mark).

Here is a bit of background on Mark: Mark Freiberg, DVM Dr. Mark Freiberg graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Zoology. He attended Washington State University and added a degree in Animal Science and graduated from Washington State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. After briefly practicing he founded the hospital now known as Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood, WA. Today, the specialty center is the largest private veterinary hospital in the state of Washington in terms of veterinarians employed.

Mark then founded Animal Emergency Service of Kirkland, WA. In 1992, he became the owner of Rose Hill Animal Hospital. In 1996, he merged his two practices to become a founder of Pet’s Choice, Inc. By the late 1990’s Pet’s Choice had grown to 65 hospitals. Following the merger of Pet’s Choice, Inc with Veterinary Centers of American (VCA), Mark remained as medical director of VCA Rose Hill Animal Hospital (13006 NE 85th Street in Kirkland). He attained board certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 2001.

Ad Astra – John Radovich ’55

John Charles Radovich

Radovich 55
John Radovich ’55

John Radovich ’55 was a champion of our fraternity. He gave generously of his time and money to support the fraternity, its physical facitlity, and scholarships to worthy undergraduates. In addition he was the leader in organizing the annual “Fijis in the Desert” luncheon in Palm Desert.

In late December we lost this good man when John Radovich ’55 succumbed to the ravages of Hodgkin’s disease. Below is his obituary from the Seattle Times.

John Charles RADOVICH John Charles Radovich passed away December 27, 2011. John was born December 1, 1932. He graduated from West Seattle High School in 1950 and from the University of Washington in 1954 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. John continued to be a loyal member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity.

He started in the commercial real estate business with Henry Broderick in 1961 as a leasing agent. In 1963 John C. Radovich Real Estate was formed concentrating on buying and selling commercial property. In 1975 he and a partner purchased Newport Yacht Basin and converted the moorage slips to condominium ownership, which was the first time this had been done in the United States.

John was instrumental in starting Eastside Catholic High School now located on the Sammamish Plateau, and Xavier College Preparatory High School in Palm Desert, California. He was a committed philanthropist and received an award from Atlantic Street Center for the Outstanding Private Contributor of 2009. John was also an active member of St. Monica’s Church on Mercer Island for 48 years. His other interests included fishing, golf, photography and roses.

He is a member of the Seattle Golf Club, Bighorn and the Vintage Club in California. He was still active in developing and managing his real estate holdings. John is survived by his wife, Carol Ann; his children Jennifer (Dan) Morgenstern, Kate (Fritz) Nichols, and Nick (Kristen) Radovich; 7 grandchildren; sister, Mary Jo Malone; and 11 nieces and nephews.

Published in The Seattle Times on January 1, 2012