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Published: Wednesday, 10/1/2003

Food exec raised funds for Archbold

ARCHBOLD, Ohio - John J. McRobbie, former president of La Choy Foods who helped raise money for many community projects, died of cancer Monday in his home.

Mr. McRobbie, 78, who later became senior vice president of Beatrice Foods Corp. in Chicago, presided over La Choy operations in Archbold in the 1970s during a period when the company experienced rapid growth.

“I think it was a thing of pride for him that they had a team that was successful for many years,” Michael McRobbie, his son, said. “He enjoyed the work, understood it, and had a vision for how the plant should be run.”

His wife, Virginia, said her husband honed his skills as a salesman at the beginning of his career in the early 1950s working for La Choy in Shreveport, La.

“He just told me he couldn't wait to go to work when he woke up in the morning,” she said.

Mr. McRobbie was transferred to the La Choy plant in Archbold in the early 1960s. He worked his way through several management posts until he was named president in the early 1970s. He was president about 10 years, then promoted to La Choy's then-parent company, Beatrice Foods, in Chicago.

He retired in 1986 and returned to Archbold where he worked as a consultant for Diehl, Inc., and other firms.

Born in England, Mr. McRobbie was sent as a child during the Depression to live in New Jersey. He graduated from Southern Methodist University in the late 1940s.

Over the years, Mr. McRobbie served on the Fulton County Hospital board and later was a board member of Hospice of Fulton County.

He helped raise funds to improve Archbold library and sought donations for an athletic complex at Archbold High School.

Surviving are his wife, Virginia; son, Michael; daughter, Susan Downey; seven grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Archbold United Methodist Church. Short Funeral Home handled arrangements. The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Fulton County or to Archbold United Methodist Church.

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