Photo: Front row (left to right): Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce President Kay Ruhstaller, Shaylynn Beam, Terri Beam, Andrew Beam, Diana Muller, Rudy Maggio, Bruce Fry, Chamber CEO Timm Quinn. Seated: Sam Tanaka, Jim Tanaka. (Courtesy Photo)
The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce inducted six new members into San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame in a recent ceremony.
Benjamin “Ben” Beam (posthumous), Bruce Fry, Rudy Maggio, Diana Muller, Jim Tanaka and Sam Tanaka earned entry into the hall of fame, which honors those to the heritage and history of agriculture in the region.
Here’s a look at the new inductees.
Jim and Sam Tanaka
Jim and Sam Tanaka are partners in Tanaka Farms, Inc. with their brothers Richard, Bob, and Joe. Jim, with his brothers Richard and Bob, as well as their father started farming in 1947. Sam started farming with his brothers in the 1950’s. Together, they grew the business from nothing to about 3,000 acres of diversified farming in both San Joaquin and Yolo counties. Tanaka Farms, Inc. became a highly efficient integrated agriculture business complex. They were among the first growers to use precision apply pre-plant fertilizer, transplant cannery tomatoes, operate their own laser leveling machinery, and adopt an integrated pest management program for cannery tomatoes resulting in a 50% reduction in pesticide use.
Diana Pellegri Muller was born in Stockton and raised on Union Island. Growing up she worked in the fields, packing asparagus, and tending to the tomato hot beds. She also did the payroll for the farm hands that harvested tomatoes on the family’s ranch. She has been has been co-owner of Muller Ranch with her husband Elmer, a diversified farming operation raising asparagus, alfalfa, tomatoes, sugar beets, and cereal grains. The operation also included horses, sheep, and goats. For over 50 years, Diana has been very active with 4-H Clubs. She was honored in 2005 by receiving the Virgil Groves Most Inspirational 4-H Leaders Award.
Rudy first began farming at 12 years old when his father Roy Maggio was stricken with polio and was paralyzed from the waist down. Rudy took on most of the work in the vineyards with guidance from his father. When Rudy was 20 years old Roy Maggio and Son was formed and Rudy was a full partner. Together, father and son farmed grapes, leased property and did custom farm work. Rudy and Roy started their father and son packing company Riviera Fruit Company which shipped grapes to Canada, Chicago, and East Coast locations until 1980. In 1980, Rudy transitioned from shipping fresh grapes to delivering and selling his grapes to Gallo, The Wine Group, and Bronco Wine. Rudy was the General Manager and ran Oak Ridge Winery from 2002-2020.
Benjamin “Ben” Beam (posthumous)
Benjamin “Ben” Beam was born June 9, 1957 in Manteca, California and passed away on November 11, 2015. While his life was short Ben had a lasting impact on his children, friends, countless students, and the sheep community. At a young age, Ben felt a responsibility to help out his family while his younger brother Andrew was battling brain cancer. Ben began milking goats at a neighbor’s farm and the funds he earned helped the family go to Disneyland before Andrew was too sick to travel. After graduating from East Union High School in Manteca, Ben attended Delta College and Fresno State where he earned a degree in agriculture education. During this time, Ben built competitive livestock programs at Denair High School, Lassen Community College and Delta College.
Bruce Fry is a fifth generation California farmer from Lodi, California. He grew up working on the family ranches part-time while attending school. He holds a degree in Agricultural Business Management with a focus on Farm and Ranch Management from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He joined the two family businesses full-time and is now the Vice President of Operations of Mohr-Fry Ranches a diversified farming operation since 1855 and President of Fry and Son. In addition, Bruce has consulted on vineyard and orchard development and management in the area.
Bruce currently farms 12 varieties of winegrapes on 600 acres in the Lodi area, and the operations sells to over 20 wineries from large to boutique, locally, and out of state.