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Potato industry mourns the passing of a giant

By
Ryan G. Beckman, digital editor

Chris Jevne, senior sourcing manager for Walmart Stores Inc. and a longtime member of the potato industry, died suddenly Friday, Nov. 19. He was 54.

Mr. Jevne spent the last 11 years sourcing fresh produce at Walmart. “In the 11 years I worked directly with Chris, I got to know him as well as anyone could. He loved his wife and daughters, being a part of the Walmart community and representing Walmart to the potato community,” said Scott Dray, senior director of GPS Northwest (Walmart). “At trade shows Chris was almost a celebrity, respected and loved by all the vendors he saw. He was many things to many people, but to me, he was my friend and confidant who I’ll miss terribly.”

"Chris was a better partner than I ever could have asked for as I’ve learned from him over these past four-and-a-half years,” said Wynn Peterson, Walmart's senior merchant. "I will miss his advice, counsel and humor tremendously as a close friend and business associate.”

Prior to Walmart, Mr. Jevne worked at Basin Gold Cooperative for eight years handling produce sales and transportation management. “The loss of Chris is devastating not only to me but the entire Basin Gold family," said Mike Connors, Basin Gold sales manager. "Chris was as good a friend as anyone could ever ask for.”

Earlier in his career he worked for seven years at Columbia Packaging/Unisource handling sales of packaging and paper products primarily for the fresh produce industry. Mr. Jevne also worked at Volm Cos. handling sales.

"We all know of Chris’ deep and broad knowledge of our industry, but his ability to form strong and lasting friendships is what made him unlike any person I’ve ever met,” said Peterson. "He was always open and ready to share — to bring me along — and I did my best to travel with him to absorb some portion of his expertise in the crops he oversaw — not to mention his expertise on harvesting, storage, packaging, packing operations, transportation and literally every other aspect of our business.”

Known for his can-do attitude, Mr. Jevne would find and offer solutions in confident, collaborative ways.

Addressing Walmart suppliers, Peterson said, "His countless hours of work with you in your fields, storages, packing sheds, and from behind his desk have been invaluable to our team in Bentonville, AR, and to our much broader team that includes all of you. He and his broad smile made every situation better, every single day."

Mr. Jevne is survived by his wife, Megan, and daughters Abby (10) and Katie (7).

A memorial service for Mr. Jevne will be held Friday, Dec. 3 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Yakima Covenant Church, 6015 Summitview Ave., Yakima, WA.

Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared here.

Comments from his many industry friends and supporters:

"Chris had an innate ability to connect with anybody in our industry. He could walk into a room not knowing anybody and then by day’s end have earned everyone’s trust as a true partner and colleague.” — Eric Beck of Wada Farms Marketing Group

"Chris was a giant in the potato industry who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.” — Seth Pemsler, IPC vice president-retail/international.

“It's hard put in words Chris' impact on our industry — his industry knowledge was vast and deep. He was a true potato guy and a genuine friend that could always put a smile on your face.” — Jamey Higham, CEO Farm Fresh Direct

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