LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Retired Publix president Mark Hollis has died at a Florida hospital.
The Florida-based supermarket chain says Hollis died Friday at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. He was 78.
Hollis served as the company's president from 1984 until 1996, when he was elected vice chairman of the board of directors. He retired in 1999 and remained on the board until 2005.
Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw says Hollis was "a Publix icon." Hollis' first job with the company was bagging potatoes in 1946 at age 12. He rose from store manager to various executive positions before joining the board in 1974.
Hollis graduated from Stetson University in 1956 and earned a master's degree from Michigan State University.
Publix employs more than 156,000 people in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.