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Former president of the BCFGA will be fondly remembered as charming, popular leader
A huge contingent of family, friends and fruit growers from across the Okanagan Valley are expected to attend Joe Sardinha’s funeral this coming weekend.
The former longtime president of the B.C Fruit Growers Association (BCFGA) died suddenly following a heart attack early last week, leaving his family and large circle of friends in shock.
Sardinha was the popular president of the BCFGA from 2005-2011. He was only 52 years of age.
“It was very shocking to everyone because no one expected this,” said Jeet Dukhia, the current president of the BCFGA who had known Sardinha as a colleague, friend and fellow fruit grower for almost 20 years.
“This is a big loss to our industry because Joe dedicated many years of his life working for the best interests of the people who made their living in this industry.”
When you work in a high-profile position like being the president of the BCFGA, you’re not going to be able to please everyone, but Sardinha always tried his best and that made him popular with most people in the industry, said Dukhia.
“He was greatly respected by almost everyone I know in our industry … and that’s the biggest compliment you can say about Joe,” he said. “Under the circumstances, he was always trying to do what was best for our people and for the industry.”
To show how much people liked Sardinha, almost two dozen fruit growers from across the region showed up at his apple orchard last week to help Sardinha’s widow begin the harvest of their large apple crop.
Glen Lucas, the general manager of the BCFGA, agreed that Sardinha’s death has hit a lot of people very hard, especially considering how young he was.
“It was a total surprise because it was so sudden and he was only 52 …that’s way too young,” he said. “There was no warning whatsoever and the last time I talked to him, everything was great and he and his wife were busy getting ready for the harvest.”
Sardinha was a friendly, courteous and warm-hearted man who will be greatly missed, said Lucas.
“Joe had charisma and personality and a great way of communicating well with everyone he met,” said Lucas. “I can’t tell you the number of times that I would meet with provincial, federal and municipal leaders since Joe stepped down as president and they would all ask me how he was doing.
“He was a very personable and charming man and people always felt comfortable around him because he was so down to earth.”
Sardinha has left a lasting legacy for fruit growers across the Okanagan Valley, said Lucas.
He was a key player in amalgamating four fruit tree co-ops across the region into the B.C Tree Fruit Co-Op, he said.
He was also an ardent supporter of introducing new varieties of apples and initiating a replanting strategy across the region, promoting a buy local campaign and helping ensure the seasonal agricultural worker program was established and would continue across this region, said Lucas.
Lucas is expecting a very large crowd at Sardinha’s funeral, set for Saturday in Summerland.
“I expect there will be a very large turnout,” said Lucas. “A lot of people from the fruit tree industry are going to be there to pay thier respects and I know he had a lot of friends as well. He will be missed.”