Jim Vitale (1926-2007)
Vincent ‘Jim’ Vitale was affectionately known as the “Watermelon Man of the Eastern Market” in Detroit. He was in the produce industry most of his life. His father came to this country in 1924 from Sicily and opened a fish store. In the 1940s, Jim’s father moved his shop to the Eastern Market and transitioned to produce. After World War II, Jim and his brother Frank, joined their father’s business. They soon gained a reputation for selling the best quality watermelons and bananas. Jim became the Watermelon Man during this period and was selling over 24 million pounds of watermelon a year by the 1980s.
A little known fact about Jim Vitale is that he sought a patent for an educational game he created for children in 1984. The game demonstrated how watermelons are grown, harvested, shipped, and transported to food stores and fruit markets.
Jim was a member of the National Watermelon Association for many years. He served as President of the Association in 1980-1981. He was Chairman in 1982. He was an active participant and generous donor at our annual convention auctions and a good friend to many of our members. Jim Vitale made valuable contributions to the Association and the industry and we are very thankful for Jim and his family.
Membership in the National Watermelon Association provides access to industry leaders like Jim Vitale. These leaders care about the personal and professional lives of our members and seek their best interests and success. They help, advise, counsel, and serve out of sincere friendship and concern and we are fortunate to have them as guides.
Consider membership in the National Watermelon Association today by joining one of our regional chapters and become part of the Watermelon family and the magnificent legacy.