Arne M. Thirup, AAF: 1928-2018 -





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Arne M. Thirup, AAF: 1928-2018

by | Feb 28, 2018 | Floral Industry News | 0 comments


A dedicated family man and a much-admired industry leader who advocated tirelessly for domestic flower growers died peacefully on Feb. 21. Arne M. Thirup, AAF, the former President of Pajaro Valley Greenhouses Inc. in Watsonville, California, was 90 years old.

“Arne was a true pioneer in American cut flower production,” said former Society of American Florists president Red Kennicott, AAF, of Kennicott Brothers Company in Chicago. “Arne’s friendly personality and his willingness to share resulted in his becoming a mentor to many, as he established standards to which others aspired.”

“Dad lived his life for the floral industry and his family,” said his daughter Karen Sambrailo, who remembers watching her father walk through the greenhouse early in the morning and accompanying him at night, armed with a flashlight, to turn on the boiler. “So many of my best childhood memories are of him growing flowers, talking about flowers. It really was his passion.”

Thirup held many leadership positions within the floral industry throughout his life, and he played a key role in the creation of the California Cut Flower Commission. In 2001, he was inducted into SAF’s Floriculture Hall of Fame, the industry’s highest honor.

According to his family, Thirup was born and raised in Denmark, one of six children of a greenhouse operator. He was educated in the field of horticulture, came to the United States in 1953 for an internship program in Indiana, and eventually made his way to San Francisco. It was here that he met Pauline, a recent German immigrant and they married shortly thereafter.

Early in their marriage, the couple worked their day jobs, he as a gardener and she as a nanny, while the evenings were spent tending to their one-acre flower parcel. Together, they built Pajaro Valley Greenhouses Inc., a successful flower growing business that included locations in Watsonville, Nipomo and Vista, California as well as floral wholesale outlets in Atlanta, Knoxville and Nashville.

Thirup was a tireless and trusted leader within the industry. He served on numerous boards and held office positions for most of the regional and national organizations within the floral industry, including SAF treasurer, president of Roses Inc.; chairman of the Monterey Bay Flower Growers Association;  chairman of the Floral Trade Council; and CCFC commissioner and treasurer, among other roles. In addition, he served as president of Watsonville Rotary and was a board member of Watsonville Chamber of Commerce and the Monterey County Farm Bureau.

In 1987, Thirup also became one of Greenhouse Grower magazine’s earliest honorees as Grower of the Year for his activism supporting fair trade in cut flowers.

Thirup is survived by Pauline, his loving wife of 64 years, three daughters, Sambrailo and her husband, Mark, of Watsonville, Doris of Arroyo Grande, and Sandy (Frank) Garcia of Danville, as well as seven grandchildren, Erik (Natalie), Kiersten (Billy), Ty, Alexandra, Grant, Brock, and Maren. He is also survived by one great-granddaughter, Taylor Sambrailo, and was looking forward to the birth of a second grandchild in July. In addition, he leaves his sister, Ingeborg (Holger Jorgensen) of Denmark and many nieces and nephews in Denmark.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, March 1st, with Rosary at 6:00pm at Ave Maria Memorial Chapel. A mass will be celebrated on Friday, March 2nd at Holy Eucharist Church in Corralitos. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted in the care of the Carroll family of Ave Maria Memorial Chapel

The family asks that memorial gifts be made to either Hospice of Santa Cruz County, 940 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066, or Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust, 85 Nielsen Street, Watsonville, CA 95076, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

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