Who's Who Hall of Fame

(To see our full list of movers, shakers, and other news-makers, check out the full Who’s Who listing.
For a list of former Memphians who have made a name for themselves in other places, see our list of

Jack Belz

Chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises, one of the South's largest real estate and development firms, and one of the country's largest developers and managers of factory outlet malls. Real estate and previous holdings stretch from Boston to Orlando to Las Vegas. Longtime booster, activist, and participant in downtown development. Probably best known for bringing back The Peabody hotel. The driving force behind Peabody Place, a two-million-square-foot mixed-use development stretching for eight blocks downtown and one of the largest historic renovation projects in the U.S. Includes The Peabody and other hotels, AutoZone corporate headquarters, apartments, offices (including Belz Enterprises' headquarters), a movie theater complex, shops, and several restaurants. Working with Memphis Housing Authority and Henry Turley Company to develop Uptown, which includes demolition of old Hurt Village housing project and redevelopment of Lauderdale Courts housing project, and development of approximately 1,000 new single-family and multifamily units near St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Partner with Turley in Harbor Town, South Bluffs, and other downtown projects. Age 78. Among many other regional and national awards, has received the Leadership Memphis Community Leadership 2000 Award, 2003 Master Entrepreneur Award of the Society of Entrepreneurs and Junior Achievement, the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center City Commission, and the Kether Shem Tov Award from the Orthodox Union, one of the highest honors bestowed upon members of the worldwide Jewish community.

William Dunavant

CEO of Dunavant Enterprises, the world's largest private cotton merchant. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost experts on cotton and commodities prices. Founder of the Racquet Club of Memphis and responsible for bringing the annual professional tennis tournament to the club and to Memphis. Avid hunter, sportsman, and financial patron of Ducks Unlimited and the Dunavant Upper School at Memphis University School. Age 73.

Al Green

Lured to Memphis from his native Arkansas by producer Willie Mitchell in the 1970s and racked up seven top-10 soul hits in a three-year stretch. Turned to gospel music after a religious conversion in 1973. Became an ordained preacher and founded the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Whitehaven, where he serves as pastor. Church is located on Rev. Al Green Road (formerly Hale Road). Age 60. Multiple Grammy Award winner. Member of the Rock-and-Roll, Gospel, and Songwriters Halls of Fame. In 2003, had albums listed in Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time and released his first new album of secular music in decades: I Can't Stop, produced by Willie Mitchell. Latest CD released in 2005: Everything's OK. Performed at the White House in February, honoring Arthur Miller's Dance Theatre of Harlem – a show which briefly managed to get President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush to their feet and on the stage.

Willie Herenton

Mayor of Memphis since 1992, currently serving his fourth consecutive four-year term and pledged to run again in 2007. Age 66. Budget priorities and revenue problems, combined with a perceived increase in violent crime, have put such pet Herenton issues as city/county consolidation on back burner. The on-again/off-again feud with the City Council has continued as both struggle to maintain the city's fiscal solvency and restore the city's formerly ultra-high bond rating after a slight but noticeable dip. Rumors involving his relations with indicted former mayor Bill Campbell of Atlanta have caused embarrassment but so far no legal problems, and Herenton is free and clear of the Tennesse Waltz scandal involving mainly political rivals. Strained relations with public employees and revelations of problems with the city's FedEx Forum contract with the NBA's Grizzlies have caused public reaction, however, and potential mayoral opponents have begun to speak up.

J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III

Founder of AutoZone and one of Memphis' most famous entrepreneurs. Created AutoZone out of the grocery store conglomerate Malone & Hyde and led its public stock offering. Hyde retired as chairman in 1997 shortly after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. With wife, Barbara, is active in philanthropy and civic affairs to an extent rarely seen in Memphis. Hyde, 63, is part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and was the leader of the pursuit team that brought professional basketball to Memphis. In addition, Hyde has been instrumental in the founding of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. Other civic pursuits include public education, Memphis Tomorrow, Ballet Memphis, and the National Civil Rights Museum.

Pat Kerr (hall of fame)

Chairman/CEO of Pat Kerr, Inc., which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Spearheaded such civic celebrations as the lighting of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, the groundbreaking "Big Dig" party for The Pyramid, and the inaugural Northwest/KLM flight to Amsterdam. Founder of The Blues Ball, the Jingle Bell Ball, and the Nutcracker Ball benefiting Memphis Music, children, and the arts. Designs and sells antique lace fashions from her downtown penthouse/office. Is showcased in prominent New York retail windows and featured on the covers of magazines and books, including Martha Stewart's Weddings. Lived in London 20 years developing an extensive private royal collection containing gowns and items from Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Queen Victoria, and King George III. Widow of international financier John Tigrett. Native of Savannah, Tennessee. Serves on various boards, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis in May, the University of Memphis, and the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Native of Ferriday, Louisiana. Came to Memphis in the 1950s to record for Sun Studios. Shot to fame with blockbuster hits "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire." First inductee into Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame. In 2005, received Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. Performed both rock-and-roll and country songs at 2006 Beale Street Music Festival. Age 71. Resides in Nesbit, Mississippi. Famous for multiple marriages. Released two albums in 2006, The Definitive Collection in April, and a three-disc set in June, Jerry Lee Lewis: A Half Century of Hits.

Ira A. Lipman

Founder and president of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world's largest security services companies, which operates in 400 cities worldwide with 19,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $510 million. Recipient of 2002 Stanley C. Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics, from the Ethics Resource Center. 2002 recipient of Corporate Citizenship Award, presented by the Committee for Economic Development. 1996 recipient of American Business Ethics Award. Age 65. Author of How to Protect Yourself from Crime, in its fourth edition, published by Reader's Digest. First chairman of the ethics committee of the board of governors of United Way of America. Honorary life chairman and former national chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Executive committee member and trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international human-rights organization. Chairman emeritus of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Member of the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and 2004 recipient of the Wharton's School Dean's Medal. Member of Business Executives for National Security and board member of Ligue Internationale des Sociétés de Surveillance. In 1997, founding chairman, Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Allen Morgan Jr.

Vice chairman of Regions Financial Corp. and chairman and cofounder of its investment subsidiary, Morgan Keegan & Co., in 1969. Under his leadership, Morgan Keegan grew to become one of the South's leading full-service brokerage firms and a New York Stock Exchange-listed company until it was acquired by Regions, based in Birmingham, Alabama. A native Memphian, Morgan, 63, is still based in Memphis in the downtown office building that bears his name. Regions and Morgan Keegan are sponsors of the annual men's and women's professional tennis tournament at The Racquet Club.

Jackie Nichols

Founder and executive producer of Playhouse on the Square, Memphis' only resident professional theater company, now in its 37th season, and Circuit Playhouse, dedicated to producing original and experimental plays. Also created "Pay What You Can Night" at Playhouse and Circuit; and the new TheatreWorks near Overton Square, a performance space for alternative theater and dance. Age 59. Helped develop Greater Memphis Arts Council's Arts Access Program, which provides food-stamp recipients with free tickets to arts events. Started an after-school acting program for children and has had 33,000 students emerge from his numerous outreach programs. Now does 19 professional productions a year, for more than 52,000 patrons. Past recipient of the Memphis Rotary Club's Outstanding Community Service Award, the State of Tennessee's Distinguished Achievement Award in Theater, and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator Award.

Frederick W. Smith

Chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, the largest and most important company in the Memphis region. With annual revenues in excess of $25 billion, FedEx is the premier global provider of transportation, e-commerce, and supply-chain management services. Founded by Smith as Federal Express in 1973, the company has approximately 32,000 employees in the Memphis area. Originator of "overnight delivery." Business units operating under the FedEx brand include FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, FedEx Custom Critical, FedEx Trade Networks, and FedEx Kinko's. FedEx also owns the naming rights to FedExForum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies. One of the original financial backers of Alcon Entertainment. Briefly appeared as himself in the 2000 film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks. Smith, 61, is a graduate of Yale and a former Marine Corps officer.

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