Founder of McDill Associates Melissa McDill Passes

Thu. May 21st, 2020
- by Anne Allen     

SOQUEL, CA - It was with a heavy heart that AndNowUKnow learned of the passing of Melissa “Missy” McDill, Founder and President of McDill Associates. An industry tour de force, Melissa established McDill Associates in the 1970s to serve the marketing needs of a variety of industries. She found her calling in leading the forefront of agriculture marketing.

After earning a BFA from California College of the Arts, Melissa’s natural business savvy helped her build some of the largest brands in produce during their formative years. She brought exceptional creativity, strategic thinking, and heart to everything she did. Always thinking ahead, a few of her noted accomplishments include developing the idea for value-added produce snack packs for kids, coining the term “Triple Washed,” and inventing the first refrigerated footed bowl. One of her goals during the '90s was to help fresh produce compete against the snacking sector. She even gave Grimmway Farms the idea for carrot chips.

A pioneer in the produce industry at a time when there were not many women, Melissa was a valued leader who mentored many others. Her leadership earned hundreds of design and marketing awards for McDill’s clients over the years, including Tanimura & Antle, California Giant Berry Company, Martinelli’s, SnackWells, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Sakata Seeds, and more. More recently, she was focused on the agency’s clients in the natural foods category, the rebrand of Pink Lady®, and the global launch of Cosmic Crisp® apples.

Melissa built a dedicated and talented staff and client base over the past 40 years. McDill Associates will continue under the direction of Executive Vice President Lisa Hansen and board oversight by Julie McDill.

A native of Salinas, California, she sustained a woman-owned business in the small town of Soquel, California, a fact of which she was very proud. She raised her son with her husband in that tight-knit community, all while valuing nature, creativity, and giving back. As one of six kids, Melissa was always surrounded by family and treated many that she knew as extended family.

Outside of family and business, Melissa was known as a powerhouse philanthropist. She was deeply involved with Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, serving as Board President for several years. Her nonprofit work has benefitted countless local families who have children with cancer.

She is survived by her husband Bill Gurmin and son McCoy McDill-Gurmin (wife Effie); sisters Debbi McDill, Julie McDill (Larry), Laurie Leslie (Jim); brothers John McDill (George) and Budj McDill (Becky); stepchildren Tiffany Keith (Tim) and Torre Gurmin (Jen); and grandchildren Matt, Justina, Lila, and Ace, and numerous nephews and nieces.

The family will be holding a celebration of life to honor her memory at a date that is yet to be decided. In lieu of flowers, they ask that you consider making a donation in her memory to Jacob's Heart Children's Cancer Support Services.

Melissa will be remembered as a larger-than-life spirit who loved dancing, travel, art, and laughter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family at this time.