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On a recent Saturday morning, Jerry Fry, Jr. and his wife Peggy had gone to the Kautz family home to prepare a holiday breakfast.
Fry, the president and CEO of Mohr-Fry Ranches, was only expecting a small get-together with long-time friends to celebrate the holidays.
He was left speechless when he arrived and found members of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, fellow Rotarians, winery owners, growers, and nine former Outstanding Citizens of the Year there to bestow him with the 2021 honor.
“I’m overwhelmed, and very humbled,” Fry said Wednesday. “Being that I totally didn’t expect this, and that I don’t live in the city, I’m just shocked.”
The chamber said Fry was selected as the 2021 Outstanding Citizen of the year for his decades-long service throughout the Lodi community.
He has been a president of the Lodi Rotary Club and has not missed a meeting in 56 years, and was a founding member of the World of Wonders Science Museum board of directors. He still serves on that board today.
Fry also helped organize and start the Lodi chapter of the International Brotherhood of Knights of The Vine, of which he is a member of the Cadre and a Supreme Knight.
In addition, he serves on the Lodi First Methodist Church Board of Trustees, as well as its stewardship committee, Little Methodist Pre-School task force and finance chair, and is a member of the chamber’s Ag Committee.
A volunteer firefighter with the Woodbridge Rural Fire Protection District for 25 years, Fry has been a member of its board of directors for the same number of years, serving as its president for nine.
Among his long list of service, Fry said he has been most proud of being on the Rotary Club and the WOW board.
“It’s just been exciting (being on the WOW board),” he said.
“Sally Snyde has of course led the way, but being part of that board and seeing the whole thing develop has just been great. It’s been wonderful for the city, and so many kids in the region have, and will, continue to benefit from it. And it’s nice to see its expansion begin.”
Born and raised in Mt. Eden, Fry is a fourth-generation California farmer who graduated from UC Davis with a soil science degree and later received his master’s degree in soil physics.
He has grown Mohr-Fry Ranches the business through winegrapes, cherries and a variety of other crops, Patrick said.
“His goal is excellence and the local marketplace agrees he is successful as many brands place the Mohr-Fry name on their bottles of premium Zinfandels and other varietals,” Patrick said. “With knowledge and growing expertise, he is in demand.”
In the ag community, Fry has served as first vice president of the California Association Winegrape Growers, helped form the Lodi Winegrape Commission, is a past president of Winegrape Growers of America, and an original member of Lodi Rules Sustainable Program.
He and his wife Peggy have been married 58 years, and have three sons and seven grandchildren.
“I’m just humbled for this honor,” he said. “To be part of those who have gone before me, I don’t know what to say. So many great people have stepped up and done things for this community, and then have gone on and continued doing what they do. I don’t plan to change anything I’ve been doing.”
The chamber began giving its Outstanding Citizens award to individuals in 1955, and since that time, 66 people have been honored.
Since 1965, the award has carried the name of William T. Harkins, who at the time was manager of the Lodi PG&E office, and volunteered to be the chamber’s unpaid manager when the organization fell on hard financial times.
• 1977 Agriculturalist of the Year
• San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame 1999
• Lodi Winegrape Commission Wine Integrity Award of Merit 2000
• St. Amant, Marian’s Vineyard “Mohr-Fry Grapes” Best Zinfandel in the California State Fair 2003.
• Governor’s Leadership Award for Sustainable Winegrowing 2006
• Boys and Girls Club Lodi Hall of Fame 2008
• San Joaquin Historical Society, Notably San Joaquin Award 2014
• California Association of Winegrape Growers, Grower of the Year
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