Obituary- George Kitahara
Long-time Fresno County Farm Bureau friend and past president, George Heiji Kitahara passed away on June 9, at the age of 94.
George was born on November 24, 1918, in Reedley, California. George attended Reedley High School and went on to obtain a degree in agriculture and a minor in chemistry from University of California, Davis.
When World War II began, the Kitahara family was taken to the Poston Relocation Center in Poston, Arizona. Due to his degree in chemistry, George was released from the camp to work as a foreman at the Reynolds Aluminum Mills in Gary, Indiana. During his time in Indiana, he reconnected with Viola, a woman he had met in the Relocation Center.
George and Viola began dating and later married. When the war ended, the couple moved to Parlier, California to begin their life on a farm. Their four children Dee, Ellen, Gary and Barbara were welcomed not long after the move.
George was first introduced to agriculture through his father, who was a first generation immigrant farmer from Japan. The Kitahara family had been farming in the Reedley-Parlier area since the 1940s, growing 700 acres of peaches, plums, nectarines, and table, raisin and wine grapes. George would later inherit some of the family farm land from his father.
George recognized a lot of changes in the agricultural industry that had occurred over time. The biggest change being the advances in technology. “The physiology of the plant has not changed, but we’ve been able to work closer to it thanks to all of the advances,” he once said.
It did not take long for George to become active in his local community. In 1976, he began his term as the Fresno County Farm Bureau (FCFB) President. His term was very timely, seeing that it would take strong leadership and a knowledgeable president to handle the drought and rabid agricultural labor issues that were occurring at the time. George saw the time as an opportunity to increase FCFB’s political involvement.
George’s community involvement did not end when his FCFB Presidency term did in 1978. He continued on to serve as the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) Labor Chairman in the late 1970s and also served on the Fresno County Grand Jury as well as the Regional Air Pollution Control Hearing Board.
George was known to be hard-worker and provider for his family. Due to health concerns, George retired at the age of 62 and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife to be closer to their daughter. He spent his retirement there.
George was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Viola.
FCFB sends its condolences to his family.