April 25, 2023

Produce industry veteran Gay dies at age 89

The longtime leader of global produce production, distribution and logistics provider Tom Lange Co. has died.

Farrell Cole “Dutch” Gay, who served as president and chairman of the Tom Lange Family of Companies before retiring in 1997, was 89.

“Dutch was a wonderful man and mentor,” Greg Reinauer, Tom Lange Co. president and CEO, said in a statement. “I could always count on him for the background on our business. It is important that our organization remembers and embraces the dedication and contributions of our founders.”

Tom Lange customizes programs integrating procurement, distribution and shipping of fresh fruits and vegetables to 33 countries. The company, along with its Seven Seas and Lange Logistics divisions, provides services including import/export, sourcing and procurement, and transportation solutions.

Born in Albia, Iowa, in 1933, Gay was the son of Eugene V. Gay and Naomi Cole Gay. While still in college, Farrell took a sales position in 1956 with Standard Fruit and Steamship Co., a New Orleans-based banana importer. He later moved to St. Louis as sales manager for the company, then joined Brown and Loe, a fruit and beverage brokerage firm in St. Louis.

In 1960, he and two other employees — Tom Lange and Paul Beisser — purchased the firm from the retiring owner and opened the first Tom Lange office. Phil Gumpert joined the men four years later.

Gay, who become president of the company in 1977 and chair of the board in 1995, died on March 27.

“As a newcomer to the sales side of the business, Dutch and I would talk numerous times every day as he was a mentor to me,” Gumpert said in the statement. “Dutch was not only my boss, but we also became good friends. He was always a gentleman, a person full of kindness, compassion, and empathy for people but also one with strong business ethics and integrity. Dutch and I had a very special bond. We became more like brothers than just friends. Over the years, he became my best pal. Thanks to my pal, Dutch, for all the great memories.”


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