Ralph L. Abrams, 97, longtime owner of the Ralph Abrams Farm in Shamong, known for its sweet corn, died Saturday, May 29, at his home on the farm.
The oldest of 14 children, Mr. Abrams was a father figure to many from early on. He was known to keep his younger siblings in line while working on their parents' farm in Indian Mills.
"Oh, no, here comes Rally," the children would say when their older brother was making his rounds, said granddaughter Debra Abrams.
Mr. Abrams transferred that discipline to his farms, the first of which he rented in 1938, the same year he married Rita Lombardo. He purchased his current farm in 1940. For the next 60 years, Mr. Abrams ran a successful business on the corner of Old Indian Mills Road and Route 206.
He sold all sorts of vegetables, but the most popular was his sweet corn, which he planted and picked himself.
"To this day we don't know what he did" to make the sweet corn taste so good, his granddaughter said.
Throughout the decades, and as his family became interested in various aspects of farming, the farm changed its focus from vegetables to sod to flowers grown in greenhouses and back to vegetables and some fruit.
The Les & Lil's Roadstand - named for Mr. Abrams' children - was a popular venue for selling the farm's produce from the 1960s through the late 1980s, Debra Abrams said.
Mr. Abrams was born in Red Lion and graduated from Moorestown High School in 1930. Around that time, his parents purchased the Homestead Farm on Route 206 in Indian Mills.
Mr. Abrams retired in 2004.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Abrams is survived by a daughter, Lillian Abrams Olt; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. A son, Lester, died in 1999.