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. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.