Mark C. Hollis, retired Publix president and director emeritus, passed away early this morning at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He was 78
Hollis was born and raised in Lakeland, Fla. His Publix career spanned nearly 60 years, beginning in 1946 at the age of 12 where his first job was bagging potatoes. He worked in all areas of the company serving as store manager, director of personnel, director of warehousing and distribution, and VP of public relations and public affairs. In 1974 he was elected to Publix’s board of directors. He served as 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 honored as director emeritus.
“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 Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “Mark will be sorely missed by his family, our associates and the community. 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.”
Hollis earned a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from Stetson University in 1956 and a master’s in business administration from Michigan State University. He also was awarded honorary doctorates from Stetson University and Florida Southern College. In 1996 he received the Sidney R. Rabb award, Food Marketing Institute’s highest recognition of supermarket industry leaders. He was a co-founder and chairman emeritus of Florida TaxWatch and chairman of the Florida Retail Federation.
Hollis and his wife, Lynn, were great philanthropists—generously giving back to numerous organizations including Florida Southern College, Stetson University, All Saints’ Academy and Lakeland Regional Medical Center. For the enjoyment of Lakeland’s residents and visitors, the couple also funded the development of Hollis Gardens.
In his free time he enjoyed playing tennis, sculpting, traveling to his mountain home in Franklin, N.C., and spending time with his wife, their three sons and 11 grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Lynn; sons, Clayton (Bev), Publix VP of public affairs, Jack (MaryLee) of Babson Park, Fla., and Dean (Lisa) of Omaha, Neb.; and 11 grandchildren, Justin (Rachel), Barrett, Kaley, Clay, Darrica, Will, Jill, Eric, David, Trent and Megan.
Memorial services will be held at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the charity of your choice.