Publix heiress Carol Jenkins Barnett dead at 65

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Publix heiress Carol Jenkins Barnett has died at the age of 65. 

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According to the supermarket chain, Barnett died late Tuesday evening in her home while surrounded by her loved ones. Her death follows a 2016 diagnosis for younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Carol Jenkins Barnett (The Children’s Movement of Florida)

Barnett, who was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida, began with Publix in 1972 as a cashier at Grove Park Shopping Center and later worked in the company's corporate marketing, research and development department. She earned a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Florida Southern College in 1979.

In 1983, she was elected to Publix's board of directors, where she served for 33 years, and in 1991 she was named chair and president of Publix Super Markets Charities. In 1998, she received the doctor of public service honoris causa from her alma mater.

Both Jenkins and her husband Barney are well known for their philanthropy work, giving back to nonprofits, including United Way, Florida Partnership for School Readiness, and Family Fundamentals and funding 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.

"The Publix family is deeply saddened by the loss of a great humanitarian and community advocate," Publix CEO Todd Jones said in a statement. "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."

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In addition to her husband, Barnett is survived by her two sons, Wesley Barnett and Nicholas Barnett, and three grandchildren, Raleigh, Birdie and Zoey.

A livestreamed memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Bonnet Springs Park. During this difficult time, the family asks for privacy as they mourn the loss of their loved one. 

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