Pennsylvania fruit grower Bruce Hollabaugh died March 13 at age 41.

Bruce Hollabaugh
Bruce Hollabaugh

A graduate of Penn State University, with degrees in horticulture and Spanish, Hollabaugh was co-owner and production manager of Hollabaugh Bros., a family-owned, diversified produce operation in Adams County, Pennsylvania. He also was chair of the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania’s research committee, which funded research projects for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Hollabaugh’s colleagues in the Pennsylvania fruit industry remembered him for his leadership, drive to succeed, willingness to take risks and his support for research and his fellow growers.

He recently hosted the International Fruit Tree Association on his farm in February, highlights of which you’ll see in our April 1 issue.

Retired Penn State professor Rob Crassweller was Hollabaugh’s academic advisor. He said Hollabaugh was a great student who wanted to learn as much as possible about horticulture and pomology. Early on, Crassweller suggested Hollabaugh pick up Spanish. He assumed his student would take the two agriculture Spanish courses, but Hollabaugh immersed himself and made Spanish his second major. 

In class, Hollabaugh always pushed Crassweller for the reasoning behind orchard production practices, and he continued to do so at extension meetings long after graduating. Hollabaugh always applied scientific reasoning and investigation in the orchard, participating in Penn State trials and even creating his own experimental research block, Crassweller said. 

Penn State Extension educator Dan Weber said Hollabaugh was “truly a standout among his peers.”

“To this day, I can see Bruce sitting directly across from me during my interview with Penn State Extension faculty, and recall how penetrating his questions were,” Weber said. “I was struck then by his keen insight into the business of growing fruit, and his clear intellect.”

Hollabaugh was a willing collaborator in a significant number of research and education projects. He championed Penn State and University of Maryland research, and the benefits they could bring to all growers, Weber said.

Adams County Nursery President Jen Baugher said Hollabaugh never hesitated to volunteer his time to serve the industry, share his knowledge or support important research. 

“His passion for horticulture was evident in the work he did every day at his family farm and the partnerships he built with extension and industry over the years,” she said. “Our community of growers, and community at large, will miss him greatly.”

State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania (SHAP) Vice President Andrew Schwalm said Hollabaugh was always promoting both SHAP and the Pennsylvania apple industry. He and his family often hosted tours of their operation for different groups, where visitors saw many forward-thinking approaches to growing fruit. 

SHAP board member Matt Strite said Hollabaugh knew that the Pennsylvania Farm Show was where a good chunk of SHAP’s research funds came from. He would always volunteer to work the busiest nights with his family, and he made sure the public was introduced to the industry’s newest varieties. 

Penn State pomologist Jim Schupp said Hollabaugh’s roles as chair of SHAP’s research committee, as bridge between the fruit industry and Penn State and as industry spokesman were pivotal. 

“We will miss that terribly,” Schupp said. “I don’t see, immediately, how we will be able to replace his role. He was really good at what he did.”

Hollabaugh is survived by his wife, Amanda; their three children, Gabriel, Evangeline and Fineas; his parents, Kay and Brad Hollabaugh; his sister, Ellen Hollabaugh Vranich; and many other relatives. 

For a complete obituary, go to:

by Matt Milkovich