Former Publix Pres. Hollis Dies at 78

LAKELAND, Fla. — Services are scheduled Saturday for Mark C. Hollis, retired Publix [3] president and director emeritus, who died Friday at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He was 78.

Hollis, who was born and raised in Lakeland, began working at Publix in 1946 at age 12 bagging potatoes. He went on to work in a variety of roles — as store manager, director of personnel, director of warehousing and distribution, and vice president of public relations and public affairs. In 1974 he was elected to Publix’s board of directors.

He was the company’s president from 1984 until 1996, when he was elected vice chairman of the board. He retired in 1999 and remained on Publix’s board of directors until 2005, when he was named director emeritus of the employee-owned chain.

“The Publix family is deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader and co-worker who made significant contributions to the growth and success of our company,” said Ed Crenshaw, Publix chief executive officer, in a statement. “Mark will be sorely missed by his family, our associates and the community.

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"He was a Publix icon who had a way of captivating an audience when he spoke. Most recently, in February of this year, he addressed our Miami Division leadership team for their annual conference and spoke about not looking back on the good old days, but moving forward to the bright future of our company; a message that will long resonate with our managers.”

In 1996 Hollis received the Sidney R. Rabb award, Food Marketing Institute’s highest recognition of supermarket industry leaders. He was also a co-founder and chairman emeritus of Florida TaxWatch and chairman of the Florida Retail Federation.

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He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Lynn; three sons and 11 grandchildren. One son, Clayton, recently announced plans to retire as Publix vice president of public affairs at the end of this year

Memorial services are scheduled at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the charity of the donor's choosing.

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