Barry Brand 1932-2012
Barry Brand, the founder and publisher of Fruit Growers News in Sparta, Michigan, died March 14. He was 79 years old.
Brand retired in 1997 after selling his publications, which were then called the Great Lakes Fruit Growers News and the Great Lakes Vegetable Growers News.
Brand was a tireless person who attended meetings, wrote articles, sold advertising, labeling his publications for mailing using an ancient Addressograph filled with metal address plates, and hauled the printed copies to the post office.
He had printers ink in his blood. His father worked at the Detroit Times and Barry started a newspaper while in elementary school. In high school, he was a sports writer for the school newspaper.
He graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Michigan in 1955. While there he wrote for the Michigan Daily, the student newspaper.
Upon graduation he worked as an administrative aide for then U.S. Representative—later President—Gerald R. Ford in Washington, D.C.
According to his obituary, he returned to Grand Rapids and worked for an advertising agency but his love for the newspaper business remained strong. He gained experience working on the Jackson Citizen Patriot prior to purchasing the Sparta Sentinel Leader in 1961. Two years later Barry began publishing the Great Lakes Fruit Growers News. Soon after, he began the Great Lakes Vegetable Growers News. He went on the publish several other publications.
Barry was a founding member of the Michigan Vegetable Council and served on the state’s Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Board. He served as vice chairman of the Michigan Horticultural Society Trust Committee.
Barry was the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his service to agriculture. In 1997 he became the only journalist to be named Industry Person of the Year by the National Cherry Festival.
He combined his continuing interest in politics with his concern for the agriculture industry by hosting meetings between state legislators and farmers.
After his retirement in 1997 he enjoyed world travel with his wife of 25 years, Jean, who survives him. He is also survived by children, step-children, and grandchildren. A Memorial Service will to be held Saturday, March 17, at 1 p.m. at the Sparta United Methodist Church.
Those who wish may make memorial contributions to Faith Hospice or Michigan State Horticultural Society Trust Fund.