Timothy A. Byrne Passes
- by Jordan Okumura
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL - It is with a heavy heart that we report a legend in the apple community has recently passed. Tim Byrne, well known for launching several apple varieties into the market, passed away last week. His dedication and passion for the category, as well as his impact on the industry, will long be remembered by everyone in fresh produce.
“He was a friend of mine. Tim was a Chicago city kid who traveled well, learned everything he could, and lived for a good meal with a great glass of wine. He enjoyed the freedom that comes to many during life in your early 20s, going to school a bit and living a lot. He ‘went corporate’ with Philip Morris for a number of years and enjoyed a successful career while honing his chops in management,” said Chris Sandwick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Hess Brothers Packing. “Tim bounced into the apple business and found a new home with Pepin Heights in Minnesota. While there, he ran a pick-your-own operation, managed wholesale sales for the company, and grabbed a tiger by the tail when Pepin decided to go ‘all in’ on an unknown variety called Honeycrisp. It was through the growth of that variety that Tim befriended growers all over the world. They all mourn his loss together.”
Byrne’s third act saw him become a guidance counselor to the industry as a new generation of managed varieties materialized. His innate intelligence and ridiculous passion for paperwork served him well as he learned the world of Intellectual Property Law. He helped establish NBT: A Grower’s Cooperative and served as its first President, launching SweeTango apples in the U.S. and working with plant breeding programs all over the world.
He had a particular love for the land and people of New Zealand. Byrne worked with that country’s Honeycrisp growers as they found their footing and later helped launch the Koru variety while working with New York Apple Sales.
“Tim was a kind and caring person who had a tremendous knowledge of the apple industry. Tim was a great asset to our company and guided us as we entered into the managed variety segment of the apple industry,” added Kaari Standard, President and Owner of Yes! Apples, New York Apple Sales, Inc.
Byrne brought intelligence, passion, and joy to the apple industry. He is missed, but those qualities remain through those of us who were fortunate enough to learn from him.
“Whether you were a customer, an employee, a colleague, or a friend, Tim Byrne was something special to you,” continued Sandwick. “I was all of them. Cheers, Tim.”
On behalf of all of us here at AndNowUKnow, Tim Byrne’s light will not be forgotten and he will be sorely missed. Our condolences go out to all of his family and loved ones during this time.