Tom Van Wingerden, founder of Metrolina Greenhouses, was killed in a utility vehicle accident on the company’s property in Huntersville, N.C., on Saturday. He was 63.
Tom Van Wingerden in the Metrolina facility, February 2009
Van Wingerden was an innovator in the greenhouse industry. “His legacy in the industry is broad," his son Abe told GPN in an e-mail over the weekend. "From greenhouse innovation to labor-saving technologies like the transplanter, to putting the right people in the right place to succeed, to his willingness to finalize a succession plan in 2006 when he was still young. All of these will be remembered…he was years ahead of the norm.”
"Dad was the visionary founder, a constant inventor, a generous businessman, a missionary in Haiti, a great leader and most importantly, a great husband, father and grandfather to all of us in his family,” the family said in another statement released over the weekend.
Van Wingerden was born in Holland on Feb. 12, 1946. He immigrated to the United States in 1971 and founded Metrolina Greenhouses the following year. He sold the company to his children in 2006.
“Metrolina will continue to push forward, and we now dedicate our work in Dad’s memory as he would want it,” Abe said in his e-mail. “He would want none of us to be sad but instead remember the great life he had, and the wonderful memories each of us have had with him. Dad would also want his legacy to be the continued success of our company and the continued happiness of his family, especially the grandchildren he loved so much.”
His wife, Vickie, and six children, Art, Abe, Helen, Michael, Rose and Thomas, survive him. He also is survived by 14 grandchildren.
The family has asked that memorials be sent to:
Double Harvest–Haiti, Tom VanWingerden Memorial Fund
55 South Main St., Oberlin, OH 44074
For more information on the Double Harvest organization, visit www.doubleharvest.org .
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