John F. Nelson (1908-2000)

Inducted 1991


In the 1930’s, Nelson became one of the founding members of Golden Gem Growers.

Parrish Fruit Company

Golden Gem Growers

Citrus Pallet Box

Pounds Solid Yield

Sealdsweet Growers


John F. Nelson, Sr. was born on October 4, 1908 in Ryegate, Vermont. Nelson attended university in Vermont for two years before transferring to Stetson University in Deland, Fla., in the 1920s. Nelson began working with the Parrish Fruit Co., where he met his future wife, Evelyn Parrish.

In the 1930s, Nelson became one of the founding members of one of the state’s largest cooperatives, Golden Gem Growers. During his career with Golden Gem, Nelson served as the president and chairman of the board of the company. In 1961, Nelson became well-known in the citrus industry with his development of the citrus pallet box, which allowed mechanical equipment to handle boxes instead of employees. Nelson was also well known for his recognition of the value of pounds solids yield as a basis for grower payment for their processed fruit. Nelson also determined the differences in value of the Early, Mid, and Valencia oranges–a standard that helped to innovate the marketing of fresh citrus. In addition to his career with Golden Gem, Nelson also served as president of SealdSweet Growers.

Outside of his career in the citrus industry, Nelson was highly involved in his community. Nelson was a member of many organizations, including the Eustis Elks, the Umatilla Kiwanis, and the Greater Umatilla Civic Improvement Association where he spearheaded the building of the Umatilla city swimming pool.

Nelson served the citrus industry for 58 years before his retirement. After his official retirement, Nelson continued to support Golden Gem as a director and consultant. Nelson’s son, John F. Nelson, Jr. continued his father’s legacy in the citrus industry with Golden Gem Growers.