I was born in The Hague in the Netherlands on July 2nd, 1953. The youngest of four boys, no sisters. I have two brothers left, both of them live in The Netherlands. I visit them annually. They rarely come here.
I first moved to Seattle in the mid 70's to become a carpenter, after finishing undergraduate degrees in economics and political science at the Universities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam respectively. I had decided I wanted to do something different. I had met a lady from Seattle while traveling through South America and she set me up with an architect who did his own construction. I worked for him for two years and decided I was not very good at carpentry and construction. I went back to school at the University of Puget Sound where I received my MBA in 1980. I met my wife Lavonne that year and she came back with me to Holland. We first lived in Amsterdam, then The Hague and finally Heemstede. My first job back in The Netherlands was with Royal Dutch Shell. It was the start of a career initially in commercial and later general management functions that had me travel to four continents and live in three. In 1993 we moved to Japan. I was working for a Danish company and my responsibilities included all of their Asian operations. The same company later moved me to Germany with responsibilities for all of their European sales companies. In those years, I was rarely home.
In 1997 I was asked to join my wife's family company Stemilt Growers. My father-in-law, Tom Mathison who had founded the company had started a succession plan and I became General Manager in October 1997. Although I had not worked in the fruit industry, my experience helped in bringing the company to the next level in technology, efficiency and management competency. From the start my role was limited in time as Tom had picked West Mathison, one of his grandchildren, as his ultimate successor. Tom passed away in 2008 and with West firmly in the saddle as President of the company, I retired in 2010. I continue to be tied to the company as my wife and I are shareholders and I serve on the Board of Directors.
I was asked to join the WAEF board by Buell Hawkins, I believe in 1999. Buell did not have to do much convincing. At the time I had heard about WAEF and immediately felt that it would be a good fit. I knew the value of education as it had started me on a wonderful career path that took me all over the world and I also recognized the hardship of what education costs. I had paid for most of my own education as my Dad passed away when I was in my early twenties. It was and still is a great way to give back and at the same time it helps bring our industry together. The tree fruit industry is unique in that key players of companies that on a day-today basis are each other's fiercest competitors can together, get along and do good!
I spent most of my committee time on the various strategic planning committees. It's where I felt I could contribute most. One of the functions I enjoyed over the years has been the raffle sales for the Rears sprayer at the December Hort shows. It gave me an opportunity to be an advocate for WAEF while interacting with all the growers and packers. Highlights however have been the annual scholarship luncheons. There are two, I go to the Wenatchee one. The student speakers, previous or current recipients, tell their stories. Often they are the first in their family to go to college. That's what makes it all worth it to me. We provide opportunity. I never want to say that without us, these students could not have gotten an education but we help and can make a difference. Especially our initiative of the last few years whereby we put a lot of emphasis on follow-through with the students, complementing our financial support with advice and social support, is making us so effective. Another fond memory is of a student I mentored. It turned into a great relationship and the student finished his undergraduate degree and went on with his post graduate study of optometry, just as he had planned from the get go.
After my retirement my wife and I have been doing a lot of traveling. We leave for Mexico on January 7th for three weeks. I like to plan the trips and spent time comparing notes with Jennifer who with her husband Jay, also has an adventurous travel bug. I like to ski and spent a lot of time on Mission Ridge. Annual trips to Whistler and Sun Valley compliment that. In 2011 I bought a Harley. I had wanted a motorcycle for many years but my wife judged my European driving style not suitable for two wheels. I guess my style had sufficiently changed with the greying of my hair that the purchase received her blessing. I found a new hobby and love touring the west coast's highways and byways. I like spending time with my children. Our son lives here in the valley with his girlfriend and our daughter lives in Berlin, Germany.
-Hans van Someren Gréve
WAEF would like to thank Hans for his nearly two decades of involvement! He has been integral to growing the foundation and impacting the lives of students.