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Basic Vegetable co-found dead at 86

A pioneer in the food industry who presided over Vacaville's most prominent business for more than five decades, Jaqueline Holliday Hume, died Tuesday night in his San Francisco home.

Known to friends and colleagues as Jack, he died at age 86 after a long illness.

The co-founder of Basic Vegetable Products, now Basic American Inc., Mr. Hume was a 28-year-old Harvard University Business School graduate when he and his brother, William, launched a family venture during the depths of the Depression in 1932.

Starting with a rented prune dehydrator owned by Vacaville rancher Ed Uhl, the brothers went on to build a major onion processing plant on Davis Street. From 1941 until 1986, when the plant was closed, Basic Vegetable employed several generations of Vacaville families. As many as 900 employees worked during peak seasons.

In addition to onions, Mr. Hume went on to develop dehydrated potatoes in the 1950s and was able to establish another branch of the growing family firm, American Potato Co.

Today, Basic American Inc. is a privately held corporation with two subsidiaries, Basic American Foods, formerly American Potato Co., which produces a line of dried potatoes and beans, and Basic Vegetable Products, maker of dried onions and garlic. Its main onion and garlic processing plant is in King City and a second operation is in Mexico. ...

Born July 17, 1905, in Harbor Point, Mich., Mr. Hume spent his boyhood in Indianapolis and attended Phillips Exeter Academy. In 1928, he graduated from Princeton University and in 1930 he earned master's degree in business administration from Harvard. In 1935, he married the former Caroline Elizabeth Howard. They celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

As a successful American entrepreneur, Hume was also interested in politics. He was an active fund-raiser for conservative Republicans for more than 40 years. A longtime Ronald Reagan supporter, Mr. Hume was a member of his kitchen cabinet, an informal group of advisers, many from the business world, who helped guide Reagan's rise to governor of California and later president.

Mr. Hume founded and became a trustee of Citizens for America, a nationwide grassroots lobbying organization to support the Reagan agenda. He was also a member of the Board of Governors of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

In 1975, Mr. Hume applied his business acumen to education. He established the Foundation for Teaching Economics to educate elementary and high school students about economics. ...

Throughout his career, Mr. Hume was active in community and civic affairs. He was on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1972; an overseer of the Hoover Institution; a trustee of Pepperdine University; a regent of the University of Pacific; board chairman of the Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center; a trustee of the Joint Council of Economic Education; a honorary trustee and president of the board of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; honorary commissioner of the Asian Art Commission of San Francisco; former vice chairman of the Asian Art Foundation; and a former trustee of the San Francisco Opera.

Some of Mr. Hume's many awards include the Alumni Achievement Award from the Harvard Business School in 1981; an honorary doctor of law degree from Pepperdine University in 1982; and the George Washington Honor Medal of the Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge for his "outstanding contribution supporting human dignity and the fundamentals of a free society."

A redwood grove near Vacaville's Pena Adobe Park was planted in honor of Mr. Hume after the company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1982. The Jack Hume Grove will be expanded into a park area as a result of a family gift, the city announced in August.

By Cynthia Roberts, Business Editor, The Reporter, Oct. 3, 1991