Marvin Sundquist was a giant in the fruit industry, and his philanthropy and business leadership changed the face of the Yakima Valley.
Marvin Sundquist, a titan of the state’s fruit industry and a well-known Yakima Valley philanthropist, died Saturday at a Yakima hospice. He was 89 and succumbed to congestive heart failure.
His family and friends said museums, schools, social-service organizations and hospitals were among the beneficiaries of Mr. Sundquist’s generosity.
“I guess he taught me humility, what it means to not think more of yourself than you ought to,” said Craig Sundquist, his youngest son.
Mr. Sundquist was an accomplished clarinet player, and a number of fellow musicians visited him at the Cottage in the Meadow, where he had been moved by his doctors and family earlier in the week.
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Lawrence Golan, director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, stopped by to play violin for his old friend.
Mr. Sundquist, the retired owner of Sundquist Fruit and Cold Storage, had a huge impact on the Yakima Valley.
He served on the boards of dozens of groups, including the Washington Horticultural Association, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, the Yakima Valley Museum and the Yakima Valley Salvation Army. A building bears his name at Yakima Valley Community College.
His wife, Pat, joined him in committing time and money to various organizations.
In 1996, the Yakima Herald-Republic selected Mr. Sundquist as its “Person of the Year” for the time and energy he gave to local charities.
“A guy owes the community,” he told a Herald-Republic reporter at the time.
His community-service ethic was such a part of his DNA that he took time to write personal essays about the importance of giving, often using them in speeches.
Rick Linneweh, retired CEO of Memorial Hospital, considered him the “antithesis” of leaders driven by ego.
Anne Caffery, president of the Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation, recalled the day she met Mr. Sundquist. He rode his bike across a weedy field wearing a flannel shirt and work boots.
“One of the most down-to-earth people I met,” said Caffery, who knew him for 25 years at the foundation. At the time, he had already been on the hospital board and was one of several people who helped start the foundation.
Friends and family also remember Mr. Sundquist for his love of the rugged outdoors, where he rode his bike for miles upon miles and took lengthy hikes through the Cascades.
Hiking buddy Vic Pentz wrote recently to the family that Mr. Sundquist used to pull out “victory apples” when they reached the summit of a peak.
George Allan, former CEO of Allan Bros. Fruit in Naches, met Mr. Sundquist through agriculture but became fast friends with the family through hiking.
At Mr. Sundquist’s suggestion, Allan joined the hospital board.
“He felt like it was important that there was representation from the fruit industry on local organizations,” Allan said. “I tried to follow that.”
Mr. Sundquist also held a deep appreciation for history, serving on the Yakima Valley Museum’s board of trustees. The museum’s research library bears his name.
To this day, Mr. Sundquist’s Washington State University research paper on the history of Yakima Valley irrigation is one of the go-to sources for newcomers, said museum Director John Baule in an email.
Service arrangements are pending.