It is with great sadness that Publix Super Markets shares the passing of Carol Jenkins Barnett, former chair and president of Publix Super Markets Charities, and daughter of company founder, George W. Jenkins. She passed away late last evening in her home surrounded by her loving family. In 2016, she was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Jenkins Barnett, 65, was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida. She began with Publix in 1972 as a cashier at Grove Park Shopping Center in Lakeland and later worked in Publix’s corporate marketing research and development department. In 1983, she was elected to the Publix board of directors where she served for 33 years.
In 1983, she joined the foundation’s board of directors (which would later become Publix Super Markets Charities) which instilled in her a passion for the needs of the communities Publix serves. This experience gave her a deeper understanding of her father’s interests, philosophies and goals for philanthropic giving. Following her father’s stroke in 1989, the charities board appointed her chair. In 1991, she was named chair and president.
“The Publix family is deeply saddened by the loss of a great humanitarian and community advocate,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “In addition to her service at Publix, Carol Jenkins Barnett made significant contributions to many nonprofit organizations and for the betterment of all children with investments in early childhood education programs. She will be sorely missed by her family, our associates and the community. Carol had a generous heart and compassionate soul. Her efforts will continue to improve the lives of others for generations.”
Jenkins Barnett earned a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from Florida Southern College (FSC) in 1979. She also received the Doctor of Public Service honoris causa from her alma mater in 1998.
While attending FSC, she joined the Junior League of Lakeland and throughout her lifetime remained actively involved in her community.
Jenkins Barnett and her husband, Barney, are admired philanthropists known for generously giving back to nonprofit organizations including United Way, Florida Partnership for School Readiness, and Family Fundamentals, as well as countless others. Over the years, they have funded numerous community projects including Barnett Park, and the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children at Lakeland Regional Health. Her final philanthropic gift was the founding of Bonnet Springs Park.
Jenkins Barnett is survived by her husband, Barney Barnett; two sons, Wesley Barnett (Ashley Bell Barnett) and Nicholas Barnett (Ashley Gibson Barnett); three grandchildren: Raleigh, Birdie and Zoey; and many other family members. She was preceded in death by her father, George, and mother, Anne.
A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Saturday, Dec. 11, 11 a.m. For those unable to attend or if the church reaches capacity, the service will be livestreamed https://livestream.com/fumclakeland. An icon for the service will be placed on the page; please click the link on Saturday to view.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Bonnet Springs Park, bonnetspringspark.com. During this difficult time, the family asks for privacy as they mourn the loss of their loved one.
Publix, the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. with more than 225,000 associates, currently operates 1,294 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. For 24 consecutive years, the company has been recognized by Fortune as a great place to work. In addition, Publix’s dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized among the top in the grocery business. For more information, visit the company’s website, corporate.publix.com.