Chuck Olsen, 77, lived a life of integrity
Floyd Charles Olsen, known best as “Chuck” to those in the produce industry, died Dec. 30 in Visalia, CA, after a battle with health problems related to back pain. He was 77.
Mr. Olsen founded his namesake Chuck Olsen Co. in 1987 and spent the majority of his life in the agriculture trade.
“He was all about integrity,” said his son, Jeff, who serves as president of The Chuck Olsen Co. today. “He always wanted to do the best for his customers, most who became his longtime friends through the years.”
The ag industry was in Mr. Olsen’s blood. His grandfather came over from Denmark in 1910 and started Cecelia Orchards, which Chuck would eventually take over.
Mr. Olsen graduated with a degree in viticulture from Fresno State, and took his first job in the industry as a grower representative with Ernest and Julio Gallo. In 1971, his uncle asked him to join the family ranch in Orange Cove, and Olsen knew this was the career path he wanted to follow.
Mr. Olsen spent years working to promote the orchard’s oranges, tree fruit and grapes, and built a loyal customer base, creating relationships with his customers both domestically and overseas.
“He prided himself on having a box of fruit that was consistent and high quality and would demand a little more than the general market may be,” Jeff Olsen said. “He had relationships with all the top wholesalers, who would take all that they could give them on the Cecelia Pride label, knowing they would get something special every time.”
Eventually, Mr. Olsen decided to do more. He left the ranch in 1987 to start The Chuck Olsen Co., which today continues his legacy as one of the stellar members of the produce industry’s grower shipper community.
The company is run by Jeff, Mr. Olsen’s daughter Marti and son-in-law Tom Salisbury, and their families work side-by-side building the Top Stock, Stagecoach and Tulare Chief brands of grapes, melons and citrus among other products.
Jeff noted that working with his children in this industry he loved was a dream come true for his father.
“He taught us we’re nothing without our integrity and nothing without our family and friends,” he said. “It’s what we’re about. His legacy lives on. We always work together with people, are honest and kind and do our best, just as he taught us.”
Mr. Olsen and his wife, Mary, whom he met at 16 enjoyed 56 years of marriage together. In his spare time, he liked to golf, snow ski, drive fast cars and spend time on the Central Coast. But most of all, he liked spending time with family.
He is survived by his wife, Mary; son Jeff Olsen and wife, Alison; daughter Marti Salisbury and husband, Tom; and grandchildren, Cate, Sara and Will Salisbury, and Ella and Buddy Olsen.