Obituary- Donald D. Laub
Donald D. Laub, a long-time Easton-area grape grower and past president of Fresno County Farm Bureau, died Oct. 20 from injuries sustained from an on-farm accident on Sept. 30. Services were held Oct. 26 in Fresno.
Mr. Laub was born on July 22, 1933 in Fresno, and farmed most of his 76 years. Upon his father Henry’s death in 1943 at age nine-years-old, Mr. Laub assisted his mother Anna and twin brother Ronald with keeping the Biola-area family farm going.
Throughout the years, Mr. Laub continued to farm, eventually building the family farms, Laub Ranches, Inc. and J&L Vineyards, into diversified high-quality grape operations. In 1954, he married Clara Fogal, and from a 20-acre raisin grape farm in the Biola area, the Laubs expanded the family farm to the Easton area with the purchase of prime vineyard land on Lincoln Avenue, the location of the present-day business. Under Mr. Laub’s direction, Laub Ranches became known for producing premium table grapes, raisins and wine grapes. As part of J&L Vineyards, he became one of the first to embrace and actively use integrated pest management, and was an innovator of trellis design for table grapes. With the fourth generation now engaged in the family business, J&L Vineyards has endured challenges with the tenacity of a truly strong family farm committed to agriculture as a business and as a way-of-life. Until his untimely death, Mr. Laub actively farmed with his wife and daughters, Debbie and son-in-law Ray Jacobsen, and Diane Tavares.
Mr. Laub was a well-known and respected leader in local agricultural and Easton community organizations. For more than 50 years, he was involved with the Fresno County Farm Bureau, having served as the organization’s president in 1986-88. He also represented Fresno County on the California Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors, and served on several advisory committees for both the state and national Farm Bureau organizations, focusing mostly on labor, water and public utilities issues. Mr. Laub received the Distinguished Service Award from the California Farm Bureau Federation in 1996, and both the Laub and Jacobsen families received the Fresno County Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award in 1994. That same year, Mr. Laub was selected as the Fresno County Agriculturalist of the Year. In 2001, J&L Vineyards received the Agricultural Business of the Year Award.
Among his many voluntary and community services, Farm Bureau was one organization Mr. Laub embraced and supported. At his memorial lunch, several Farm Bureau leaders commented on Mr. Laub’s commitment to Farm Bureau and passion for agriculture. “He was a farmer’s farmer, said CFBF Past President Bill Pauli. A fellow wine grape grower, Pauli spoke about Mr. Laub’s willingness to talk about his time spent in the vineyards, and the importance of conveying the value of the family farmer to the public.
Nisei Farmers League President Manuel Cunha recalled travelling with Mr. Laub to Washington D.C., advocating for immigration legislation during the 1980s. “Don would say, ‘If you haven’t walked a furrow, you don’t know what you’re talking about,’” said Cunha. FCFB Past President Shawn Stevenson also recalled several trips to both state and national Farm Bureau conventions with Mr. Laub, describing him as “among one of the most men I’ve learned from.”
Mr. Laub also served on the boards of directors of the Ag One Foundation at Fresno State, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Farm Labor Alliance, the advisory committee for the U.C. Extension Field Station in Parlier, and for several wine industry boards and commissions. In the late-1980s, Mr. Laub was appointed to serve on the federal Western Region Immigration and Naturalization Service Advisory Committee. He also was appointed to serve on the Big Fresno Fair Board of Directors and the Fresno County Planning Commission. Mr. Laub also was a member of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, Class III.
In addition to his service to agriculture, Mr. Laub assumed leadership roles in the Easton community, having served as a trustee and president of the American Union Elementary School Board and Washington Union High School Board. He also served as a director of the Fresno County Public Schools Foundation. Mr. Laub’s passion for education was evident in his program to host inner-city school children from Los Angeles and Fresno on his farm to learn more about agriculture during the 1990s.
Mr. Laub also served in the Biola Congregational Church, and on the boards of Twilight Haven Convalescent Home, Fresno County Civil Service Commission, and Fresno County Affordable Housing Task Force. The Central Union High School graduate also spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Mr. Laub is survived by his wife of 55 years, Clara; daughters, Debbie Jacobsen and son-in-law Ray, Diane Laub Tavares, and Donna Laub; and son David Laub, all of Fresno. Surviving grandchildren include Ryan Jacobsen and his wife Ashley, and Megan Jacobsen, all of Fresno; Brandon Jacobsen, of Las Vegas; Jason Allred and his wife Beth, of Duluth, MN; Jared Allred, of Fresno; and Dustin Laub, of Fresno, and three great-grandchildren. Don is also survived by his brother Dr. Ronald L. Laub and his wife Marjorie, of Lockeford. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Anna Laub, of Fresno.
The Fresno County agricultural community lost a veritable crusader for the issues with Mr. Laub’s passing. His passion for preserving the family farm, agricultural education for young people, and as an advocate for farm employees during 1980s immigration issues have left a lasting impression on those people who had the opportunity to work along side him.
Remembrances may be made to “Fresno ALFA,” c/o Fresno County Farm Bureau, 1274 W Hedges Ave, Fresno, CA, 93728 for agricultural education purposes; or “Washington Union High School,” c/o Don Laub Ag Scholarship Fund, 6041 S Elm Ave, Fresno, CA 93706.