In 1982, the New England egg industry was faltering, but Jack Radlo had a plan.
As president of the New England Brown Egg Council, Mr. Radlo wanted to focus on brown eggs, which were unique to New England. Egg producers say the jingle he selected, “Brown Eggs are Local Eggs and Local Eggs are Fresh,” helped save the industry.
“It really was a credit to Jack Radlo’s leadership and his kind of gentle and persuasive manner of pulling people together that enabled this to happen,” said William Bell, general manager of the New England Brown Egg Council.
Mr. Radlo, who had served as chairman of Radlo Foods LLC, died Sept. 16 in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 87 and had lived in Lexington.
“What people valued in Jack was that he understood all aspects of the business he was involved in,” Bell said.
Mr. Radlo, Bell said, “understood the supermarket people, he understood the farmers, he understood the advertising.”
Gus Schumacher, a former Massachusetts commissioner of Food and Agriculture, said Mr. Radlo was an innovator who always was professional and a gentleman. He described Mr. Radlo as the “gentle general” of food safety, someone who had the leadership skills of General George S. Patton, and the gentleness of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
“His life was one of extraordinary leadership, in the battles of Europe and the battle of food safety and innovative marketing,” Schumacher said. “He gave us safer eggs, fresher eggs, and tastier eggs in New England.”
Radlo Brothers was established in 1916, and in 1951, Mr. Radlo incorporated it into Radlo Brothers Inc., a broker and producer of eggs for the Northeast.
He also founded Radlo International, an export company that distributed eggs and other food products nationally and internationally to places including Hong Kong. During the 1960s and 1970s, he created Radlo of Georgia, which produced turkeys, eggs, and hogs, as well as Radlo Southeastern, a company that brokered and exported eggs.
In 1975, he started AHP, or Animal Health Products, a producer of feed additives for the livestock industry. He later ran Cambridge Products, a producer and seller of feed additives, which was created from a merger between Naremco and AHP.
He became president of the New England Brown Egg Council in the 1980s. In 1985, working with scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Boston University, he established Vicam, a biotech company that conducted quality assurance feed testing.
In the 1990s, Radlo Brothers Inc. was one of the first companies to take a franchise with the former CR Eggs, which is now Egg-Land’s Best, and Mr. Radlo became a board member for Egg-Land’s Best. Mr. Radlo also became chairman of Radlo Foods LLC, a position in which he served until shortly before his death.
Mr. Radlo’s daughter Marjorie Radlo-Zandi of Lexington said he was open-minded and progressive. He was passionate about the egg industry, she said, and went to work until five weeks before he died.
The morning of the day he died, Mr. Radlo was still offering advice to his children, and suggesting that they push extra-large eggs in the US market.
“He had a lot of energy,” Radlo-Zandi said. “He got in to work early and left late. He loved work.”
Jason Radlo, who went by Jack, was born and grew up in Boston and attended Brookline High School.
During World War II, he joined the 395th Infantry Regiment of the Army’s 99th Infantry Division. Mr. Radlo fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped to liberate a women’s concentration camp. Later, he served as an interrogation officer, questioning Nazi soldiers.
His son, David of Bedford, said Mr. Radlo told him that during interrogations he would say: “I am a Jew, and do you have a problem with that?”
Radlo said his father never considered himself a hero, and he rarely talked about war, except for when he had nightmares.
“Every now and then he’d have a dream at night,” David recalled, and would say: “You know, there was a guy in the foxhole next to me and I told him to dig. And I looked back and all that was left was his hat.”
Among the awards Mr. Radlo received for his service were the Croix de Guerre medal and the Presidential Unit Citation for heroism.
After returning home, Mr. Radlo graduated from what is now University of Massachusetts Amherst, his family said, and later graduated from Iowa State University, where he studied food technology.
During college, he met Irene Frank, who is known as Renie, and they married in 1951.
A service has been held for Mr. Radlo. In addition to his wife, daughter, and son, he leaves another daughter, Sally Gaglini of Wayland; two sisters, Lucille Gray of Brookline and Ruth Orne of Sarasota, Fla.; and six grandchildren.
“He was an excellent teacher, a model mentor,” his son said, “and I’m very fortunate.”
Mr. Radlo always smiled, his son said, and was a father figure to those with whom he worked.
“He was an emotional guy who really connected with people,” his son said. “He was exceedingly well-liked, exceedingly well-respected, and was just an absolute gentleman in a very, very tough industry.”