How a person lives and the manner in which that person’s life touches the people and communities that surround them are how we judge a Heartland Hero.
New Jersey’s Heartland recently lost a good friend and great man with the passing of Dean Pappas. For his many accomplishments and renowned generosity, Dean was about to be named our newest Heartland Hero just prior to his passing. While we are saddened he is no longer with us, we felt it was only right that Dean’s Heartland Hero recognition be awarded posthumously.
For nearly 50 years, Dean served as the President/CEO of Clement Pappas & Company, a food processing company based in Cumberland County.
After retirement, Dean concentrated his energies on philanthropy, with a focus on the Heartland counties of South Jersey.
Upon graduation from college in 1962, Dean took over as president of the food processing company that had been started by his father. At the time, the company was a seasonal fruit and vegetable canner based in Cedarville, NJ with just two full-time employees in addition to Dean. Over the next 50 years, Dean, in partnership with his late brother Peter, transformed the company so that by 2011, the Company had expanded to 5 manufacturing plants and 600 employees, with about 300 of those jobs based in Cumberland and Salem Counties.
In 2011, the Pappas family sold the Company to Lassonde Industries.
Later in his career and after his retirement, Dean became more active in philanthropic activities. He served Stockton University as a longtime Board member, including serving as the Board Chair for several years. He also served on the Board of other charitable organizations, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Dean and his wife, Zoe Sarbanes Pappas, also formed the Dean and Zoe Pappas Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to provide access to educational opportunities for young people, with a focus on Cumberland and Salem Counties, the counties where the business was based and where Dean lived for more than 70 years. One of the Foundation’s major gifts has been a $1.15 million contribution to Stockton University to establish the Visiting Scholars Program.
Our deepest sympathies go out to Dean’s entire family. We share in your loss and thank you for allowing us to honor his memory and all of the wonderful things he achieved throughout his life in New Jersey’s Heartland.