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Quintessential family man & Pumpkin King George Perry Sr. dies at age 99

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POSTED June 12, 2017 1:26 a.m.

George Perry Sr. was more than just the man who planted the seeds nearly a half century ago for what would blossom into the largest brokerage of watermelons, pumpkins and melons on the West Coast.

Perry was the quintessential family man in a community that values families. He was also a throwback to a time when a handshake was as good as gold.

Perry, 99, passed away on Friday. A mass is set for Friday, June 16, at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Not only did Perry build the ground work for three generations to work side-by-side but he extended his family to include workers of whom many have been part of Perry & Sons for decades.

“Family is most important,” Perry said in an interview with the Bulletin in 2010.

The son of immigrant Delfino Perry  —who left the Azores in 1906 and arrived in California the same year —  followed in his father’s footsteps and started his own farm.

Perry’s father started a small dairy on Jack Tone Road and started growing sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and water melon. Delfino’s  brother farmed on Brunswick Road where the Perry & Sons main yard is now located just north of Manteca.

George Perry & Sons’ pumpkin business was born in 1958 on a handshake between George Sr. with the late Antone Raymus. George Sr. wanted to farm acreage that Raymus owned near the old Summer Home School at Southland Road and Cottage Avenue.  

They came to an agreement that Raymus would get a share of the crop receipts as payment for use of the land. When George Sr. wanted to put it in writing Raymus refused noting that a handshake was good enough for him.

It is that philosophy of  “doing the right thing” by customers that has made the name “Perry & Son” synonymous with quality and dependability among clients ranging from chain stores to chain restaurants.

While Perry & Sons is a dominate force in the California watermelon and pumpkin market, they have also extended sales farther east to Colorado and even New Jersey thanks to firms looking for assurances of quality and timely delivery.

Manteca is the major source of California pumpkins with roughly 80 percent of the commercial crop grown around the community. It is for the same reason watermelons that come from here are considered among the best thanks to soil conditions, hot days, and cool nights.

The firm has built working relationships with growers in Arizona, Mexico, the Imperial Valley, and the San Joaquin Valley to move to market a wide variety of melons and squash throughout the year. They’re most noted for pumpkins as they are literally the biggest pumpkin brokers in the West and Manteca the largest pumpkin-growing region on the Pacific Coast.

 Perry was among a group of Manteca growers back in the 1970s that were miffed Half Moon Bay was laying claim as the Pumpkin Capital of the World. They made a friendly visit to the Half Moon Bay festival and then launched their own pumpkin fair at Library Park.

The original pumpkin fair was literally just a bunch of pumpkins piled on haystacks with whatever low-key entertainment they could secure. Today it has blossomed into Manteca’s signature community event attracting upwards of 50,000 people to downtown during the first weekend in October.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email

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