Fresno remembers Bob Smittcamp following his death: ‘Just so proactive and creative’


FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Local farmer, businessman, and philanthropist Bob Smittcamp passed away Thursday at the age of 79.

His impact on the Central Valley was felt everywhere, with many expressing their condolences on his passing.

“A serial entrepreneur. Just so proactive and creative,” said Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen.

“I got to see his heart. I got to see his sense of humor,” said his friend and Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.

In 1963, Bob Smittcamp helped found Wawona Frozen Foods with his father Earl. The business is now run by his brother Bill.

“Having to work at the packing house. Getting off that yellow Clovis school bus and running out to the packing house because they needed us. And we worked every day.” said Bill.

It was Bob’s years running food giant Lyons Magnus that further solidified the Smittcamp name in local agriculture, business and politics.

“He wasn’t really personable unless you knew him but he could sell. Because he knew the process and the product. He was an expert on what we made. He won the business by knowing all the aspects of his products.”

Smittcamp is remembered for major contributions to Community Medical Center, Fresno State. and other Central Valley causes.

A man with a larger-than-life impact on the Central Valley, at times preceded by his reputation.

“Being crusty and hard that, people are scared of,” said Bill. “But you get past that. He was probably the most soft, considerate person I know.”

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