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Family Cookout: 1963

Family Cookout: 1963

1963. "George Jenkins, founder of the Publix supermarket chain, with his family at their home in Lakeland, Florida." 35mm negative by Marvin Newman for the Look magazine assignment "George Pleasures Them With Groceries." View full size.

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Never thought I'd see

Dapper Mr. G posing in anything other than a suit, like in his portrait that adorns the wall of every Publix.

Wow, that article title was clearly not thought through

"George Pleasures Them With Groceries" could win an award for the worst article title ever.

[Publix's slogan is "Where Shopping Is a Pleasure." - Dave]

Aging and Ages

I was struck by how much older George Jenkins looked in this photo than his wife Anne. Then I discovered the reason: he was 17 years older than she was. Anne died in 1998 at age 74 as a very wealthy lady.

Some sadness afflicted this family despite their tremendous personal wealth. Earlier this year it was announced that Carol Jenkins Barnett, who was born in 1959 and so is likely the girl on the right in this picture, stepped down from the Publix board of directors due to early-onset Alzheimers at age 59. George and Anne's son Kenneth, born in 1952, died in 1974.

Yabba dabba do

Those are some Flintstone-style steaks!

Publix #1

was in the town I grew up in in the 1960's. I was probably the same age as the oldest boy in this picture. It was built in 1930. In the mid '50s they moved Publix #1 to the Northgate Shopping Center, and turned the old building into a Morrison's cafeteria. It's still there and a thrift store now.

Seven kids

Jenkins and his wife Anne were married in 1947 and had three boys and four girls. The oldest one beside Mom could be no more than 16. So the parents had another kid yet to come? Anyway, they divorced in 1974. I also love those steaks and the briquets and the lighter fluid, not to mention the older boys' hair and Mom's bathing suit.

[George and Anne had six children, three boys and three girls. The seventh child was a stepdaughter from a previous marriage. - Dave]

George was a gent

I was lucky enough to work for Mr. Jenkins' Publix firm for many years, and he was a wonderful person and a brilliant marketer. He had decided opinions, like not opening Publix stores on Sundays.

He'd stop in the stores unannounced and never failed to remember the names of the folks who worked there.

I'll never forget one night just before closing time when he came to the store where I worked. He and his wife had been divorced for some time when this occurred. Mr. George had a lovely blonde in his white Lincoln, and he dashed into our store to get a jar of peanut butter and a loaf of bread. He paid for those and off he went!

Mr. George seemed to me, in spite of his accomplishments, almost a shy man. The Publix chain was clearly an extension of his personality and his deep respect for the customer. He put together a leadership cadre that was absolutely committed to quality.

This summed up his manner, in my opinion: At the grand opening of the remodeled Publix #76, in Naples, Florida, I saw a customer put a couple of items in her purse. The policy was to keep a shoplifter under surveillance until they left the store without paying for whatever they took, and I passed Mr. George as I followed this person. He instinctively knew what I was doing, and said, "Here's a better way to handle it."

He took a large glass jar of our private-label peaches and handed it to the woman, saying, "Ma'am, I'm George Jenkins and I'm proud you're here today. I'd like to give you this jar of our new line of peaches. If they aren't the best you've ever had, please let Bob, your store manager, know, and he'll let me know." I followed the woman as she went back to the aisles where she had gotten the stuff in her purse, and watched her replace the items on the shelves. Later, I told Mr. George what she had done, and he quietly said to me, "She might shoplift again, but I bet it won't be at a Publix."

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