George Jenkins was an extraordinary man who lived a wonderful life. He represented the best sense of what used to be called a self-made man. However, what many admire most about him, he owed to his mother.
He often recited a Bible verse he learned from his mother as a child “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”
George Jenkins grew up with a sense of responsibility for sharing the fruits of his success. His mother saw to it.
Not only would his personal generosity grow legendary, but also his example and encouragement for others helped define a culture of generosity for his family, company, and city.
It is true that he was an ambitious, self-confident man. During the Great Depression he owned a single store and dreamed of owning a chain of supermarkets. That once poor boy from Georgia fulfilled his ambition and earned his self-confidence.
Not many men so ambitious and self-confident have been so loved. What made George Jenkins different was the way all of his attributes incorporated gratitude. His gratitude flowed from another surprising virtue in such a successful man, namely humility.
That man raised in modest circumstances in Georgia, having come to Florida with only a few dollars in his pocket, could be pleased with what his company has accomplished. There was a rare humility in his reaction that reflected his continuing surprise at just how well he and Publix had prospered. He often remarked that Publix had become far more valuable than he had anticipated.
George Jenkins lived his life in amazement at what a man of meager means could build in this country.
He embodied the counsel to “count others more significant” than ourselves, looking “not only to our own interests, but to the interests of others.”
That kind of