Who's Who Hall of Fame
(For a full listing of our city's movers, shakers, and other news-makers, see Who’s Who. For a salute to those Memphians who no longer call Memphis home, but have made a name for themselves far and wide, see our list of Who’s Who Out-of-Towners.)
Eleven Memphians named to every "Who's Who" since 1984.
Chairman and CEO of Belz Enterprises, one of the South's largest real estate and development firms. A pioneer in developing and managing factory outlet malls, the firm is among the largest nationally in that arena. 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 79. 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.
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 74.
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. Age 58. 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 2006. Currently readying new album, produced in conjunction with hip-hop band the Roots.
Mayor of Memphis since 1992, currently serving his fourth consecutive four-year term and a candidate for reelection to an unprecedented fifth term in 2007. Age 67. As is his custom, began 2007 with blockbuster initiative — in this case an ill-received proposal to build a new football stadium on a redeveloped Fairgrounds. Slump in popularity showed mayor running behind in early mayoral polls. Shocked the city in mid-summer with accusations of "blackmail plot" by longtime associate Richard Fields and others, and employed rhetoric that mayoral foes regarded as race-based. Budget priorities and revenue problems, combined with an increase in violent crime, have put such pet Herenton issues as city/county consolidation on back burner. Has continued efforts to bolster the city's fiscal solvency and restore its formerly ultra-high bond rating after a slight but noticeable dip. In 2007 Herenton remained free and clear of overt problems like the Tennessee Waltz scandal and other legal issues involving mainly political rivals and more than one council member, though election season seems likely to train a microscope on his record.
J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III
Founder of AutoZone and one of Memphis' most famous entrepreneurs. Created Auto-Zone 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, 64, 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.
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. Still performing at age 70. Recently appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and performed both rock-and-roll and country songs at 2007 Beale Street Music Festival, where he almost walked off the stage when rowdy fans started a fight. Resides in Nesbit, Mississippi, in a ranch house with a piano-shaped pool.
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. 1996 recipient of American Business Ethics Award. In 1997, founding chairman of Memphis Shelby Crime Commission. 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. Age 66. 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.
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, 64, is still based in Memphis in the downtown office building that bears his name. In 2004, created The Morgan Foundation, which raises money for research at LeBonheur Children's Medical Center for a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. Regions and Morgan Keegan are sponsors of the annual men's professional tennis tournament at The Racquet Club.
Founder and executive producer of Playhouse on the Square, Memphis' only resident professional theatre company, now in its 38th 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 Theatre-Works near Overton Square, a performance space for alternative theatre and dance. Age 60. 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. Past recipient of the Memphis Rotary Club's Outstanding Community Service Award, the State of Tennessee's Distinguished Achievement Award in Theatre, and the Gordon Holl Outstanding Arts Administrator Award. Playhouse is currently involved in a $12 million capital campaign and anticipates breaking ground on a new theatre and arts complex in late 2007.
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 1971, 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, 63, is a graduate of Yale and a former Marine Corps officer.
Pat Kerr Tigrett
Chairman and CEO of Pat Kerr, Inc., a couture design firm, specializing in bridal and baby couture. Spearheaded civic celebrations such 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. Her designs have been featured in prominent New York retail windows and on the covers of books and magazines, including Martha Stewart Weddings. Lived in London for 20 years developing an extensive royal collection containing gowns from Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Queen Victoria, and King George III. Widow of international financier, John Tigrett. Serves on various boards including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Stanford St. Jude Classic, Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission, the University of Memphis, Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, and is Chairman/CEO of Celebrations, an upscale lifestyle events company. Recipient of prestigious Philanthropy World Hall of Fame award.