George F. Sorn, a giant in agriculture who worked tirelessly to promote and protect the industry in Florida, passed away on Feb. 23. He was 86. George is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joyce, and daughter Valerie. The son of German immigrants, he was born and raised in Bridgeton, N.J. His father was a farmer. Young George spent summers harvesting fruits and vegetables, eventually landing a job with Seabrook Farming Corp. During high school, George was a baseball standout. He was scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, but Uncle Sam got first dibs. He was drafted and served in the U.S. Air Force for 18 months. George was extremely proud of his alma mater, Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture. After graduation, he returned to Seabrook and served in various capacities in the labor area. He went to work for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association on New Year's Day 1953 as a field representative. George became FFVA's labor division manager in 1967 and was named assistant general manager in 1981. He was named secretary-treasurer, executive vice president and general manager in April 1984. He was known for his wry sense of humor. When asked how long he and Joyce were married, he would jokingly reply, "Fifty-nine years, and 18 of them were wonderful." Yet George handled myriad challenges in agriculture over the decades with a straightforward, no-nonsense approach. He was highly regarded as a national expert in agriculture labor relations and served on numerous state, national and international advisory councils and committees. He represented U.S. employers as a Delegate Advisor to the International Labour Organization Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1975 and 1976. He also was appointed by President Reagan in 1989 to serve on the national Commission on Agricultural Workers. Although his many responsibilities with FFVA kept him busy, George's lifetime passion was serving the children of farmworkers, as evidenced by his longtime support and leadership with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. His deep interest in farmworker families led the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation to establish the George F. Sorn Scholarship in 2007. The program helps children of farmworkers in the specialty crop industry realize their dreams of a college education. George received FFVA's Distinguished Service Award in 1992 and was named to the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2002. Among other honors, he was recognized by Optimist International, the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security, and the University of Florida
's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. He retired from FFVA after a full and illustrious agricultural career in 1992. In his retirement, George enjoyed cultivating his rose garden and traveling with Joyce. He also was skilled in woodworking, producing many unique dollhouses that Joyce decorated beautifully. George's other passion was model railroads, and he loved to treat the neighborhood children to the elaborate train setup in his home office. He was a member of The Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, where a memorial service to celebrate his life and contributions to agriculture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday. Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to George's favorite charities: the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, 402 W. Main St., Immokalee, FL 34142, or the Orlando Health Foundation for the benefit of the Trauma Center, 3160 Southgate Commerce Blvd., Suite 50, Orlando, FL 32806.