Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Harris Mullen gave Florida readers 'Trend,' his mind

TAMPA — When it came to reading Florida Trend magazine, some people flipped to the back first.

It was home to Harris Mullen's column, Florida Close-Ups. His space to wax about everything from junk mail to the phone company with a splash of humor and a plainspoken edge.

"Many Florida banks lend only half of their deposits … because they don't know how to lend any more."

"Everybody in Florida should be required by law to plant a tree every year. In five years we would have 40-million new trees. The Chinese do something like this I think, or used to, anyway."

"This country is crying for people who can do something."

• • •

Mr. Mullen, founder of Florida Trend, died Wednesday after a long battle with Parkinson's disease and some recent falls. He was 84.

A Florida native and the son of a newspaperman, Mr. Mullen worked as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune and was a U.S. Navy veteran. When he returned from serving in the Korean War, he noticed the state lacked a good business publication. He decided to change that.

It worked. Florida Trend just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

"One of the things that Harris was able to do was to really hire good people and let them do their jobs and do them well, and that's something I really admired," said current group publisher Lynda Keever. "He was very thoughtful in his columns, and he wanted anything that wasn't quite right with Florida to get better."

Under his lead, the magazine chronicled urban renewal, housing booms, branch banking, slow construction, rising gas consumption, presidential energy plans and recession.

His personal thoughts were measured, not hasty.

"He was a rebel to a degree," said his wife, Kay Mullen, with whom he had four children. "He didn't like bankers. He didn't like lawyers. He loved Tampa and Ybor City. He thought a lot. He'd just sit there and think. Sometimes, we'd be out and people would be talking, and he'd just sit there. He'd come into the conversation after we had finished it 10 minutes ago."

He was a stickler for good grammar, even with songs on the radio. He was understated in the office and conservative with spending. He would only give employees new pencils if they brought him their worn-out old ones.

He was fatherly. In 1979, he hired Keever as the publication's first female advertising sales representative. He looked after her carefully as she went out alone on sales calls.

"He really cared what happened to all his employees," she said. "He really took the responsibility seriously."

In 1980, he sold Florida Trend to the St. Petersburg Times. He switched gears to focus on Ybor Square, an old cigar factory he had purchased and converted to a shopping center. He was fascinated by Ybor City, frequenting La Tropicana Cafe and Carmine's Seventh Avenue Restaurant.

He co-founded the Tampa and Ybor City Street Railway Society, pushing for an electric trolley system. A trolley museum was eventually founded and named for him. He spent his later years writing Civil War publications, including a novel called God Bless General Early, and took cruises with his family.

"We had a wonderful life together," said his wife. "The last months have been hard."

Through it all, she said, he never lost his curiosity. When the conversation was interesting, Mr. Mullen would perk up and listen.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

Harris Mullen

Born: Feb. 27, 1924

Died: Dec. 10, 2008

Survivors: wife, Kay, children, Julie Lux and her husband, Steve, Sandy Moore and her husband, Jeff, Nancy Griscom and her husband, Don, Harris Hopkins Mullen, Jr.; grandchildren, Courtney Shea Trout and her husband, Jeff, Michael Shea and his wife, Leila, Carrie DeLisi, Will and Katie Griscom, Lynsay Moore, Raymond Harris Mullen; two great grandchildren; brother, Charles Gordon Mullen, Jr. and his wife, Virginia; several nieces and nephews.

Services: 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 509 E Twiggs St., Tampa. Visitation one hour prior.

>>Biography

Harris Mullen

Born: Feb. 27, 1924

Died: Dec. 10, 2008

Survivors: wife, Kay, children, Julie Lux and her husband, Steve, Sandy Moore and her husband, Jeff, Nancy Griscom and her husband, Don, Harris Hopkins Mullen, Jr.; grandchildren, Courtney Shea Trout and her husband, Jeff, Michael Shea and his wife, Leila, Carrie DeLisi, Will and Katie Griscom, Lynsay Moore, Raymond Harris Mullen; two great grandchildren; brother, Charles Gordon Mullen, Jr. and his wife, Virginia; several nieces and nephews.

Services: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church,

509 E Twiggs St., Tampa.

Visitation one hour prior.

Harris Mullen gave Florida readers 'Trend,' his mind 12/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 11, 2008 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies on Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre put Texas ahead 4-3 when he scored after two wild pitches.
  2. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  3. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  4. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)

    Politics

    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
  5. Kushner discloses additional $10M in assets

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner "inadvertently omitted" more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.

    Kushner