This Family Farm is Here to Stay



Family Business Quarterly

Northeastern University Center for Family Business

Interview with Jim and Don Wilson

 By David E. Gumpert

Gumpert Communications, Inc.

In our fast-paced online and wireless world, we can easily forget that there was a simpler time in the early and middle twentieth century when Lexington, MA and the surrounding towns were family farm communities. Those farms were mostly unable to cope with the emergence of suburbia and have disappeared, their lands turned into suburban homes. Except for Wilson Farms. In its early days a nondescript member of the community of small farms, Wilson Farms is today planning for involvement of the fifth generation of Wilsons. It is at once an agrarian artifact and a retailing powerhouse. In an average week, 16,000 customers seek out its fresh produce, flowers, and prepared foods. In this interview with Family Business Quarterly editorial advisor David E. Gumpert, two generations of the Wilson Farms family, Don, (72) and his son, Jim (49), ponder the richness of the farm’s history and the challenges associated with preserving that history for future generations of the family. More…

The Flying Wallenda’s

The Flying Wallenda’s

Northeastern University

Family Business Quarterly

The Wallenda family is a story of success.  Performing in circuses for almost two hundred years, they hold several records as performers on the tightrope, and are one of the most well known and famous circus families in history.  As far back as 1830, the Wallenda family was performing in a traveling circus troupe as acrobats, jugglers, clowns, aerialists and animal trainers.

In the late 1800s Tino Wallenda’s maternal great-grandfather Engelbert Wallenda became known for his expertise in the art of flying trapeze.  In the late 1920s John Ringling traveled to Cuba to see his grandfather Karl Wallenda perform and signed him to join the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  In the spring of 1928 Karl and the Wallenda troupe arrived in New York.  When the safety net didn’t arrive from Cuba, they went on to perform without a safety net to a fifteen-minute standing ovation.  Also a circus performer, Tino’s father Alberto Zoppe, was from the circus family that brought the first tented circus to Italy in 1842.  Tino’s mother Jenny, and his father Alberto met while they were both performing with the Ringling circus and were married.  When Tino was seven years old, he began his circus training under the guidance of his grandfather Karl.  Tino and his future wife Olinka met for first time while they were both performing in the Shrine Circus which his grandfather Karl produced.  Olinka’s family was from the Bertini Troupe of world-class unicyclists and aerialists.  Today, the Wallenda family performs their signature Seven-Person four level pyramid with two generations of Wallendas.  On their most recent tour, Tino and his wife Olinka were performing with their son, two daughters, son-in-law, granddaughter and Olinka’ cousin. More…