Retired Proffitt’s CEO Fred Proffitt dead at 66
By Rheta Murry | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fred Ortman Proffitt, retired Maryville department store CEO and community benefactor, died Tuesday from an apparent heart attack.
He was 66.
Proffitt was president and CEO of the former Proffitt’s Department Store from 1985 until his retirement.
Proffitt entered retail in 1968 when he started working as manager trainee for Goldsmith’s Department Store in 1968.
After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he joined the family business.
He worked in a variety of merchandising positions at Proffitt’s, including children’s, women’s, accessories, cosmetics and shoes before succeeding his father, Harwell, as general merchandise manager in 1976.
Proffitt’s, which was started in 1919 in downtown Maryville, was sold in 2005 to Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk.
Retirement in 1989 meant Proffitt could devote more time to the community, where he performed volunteer work for the American Red Cross and Blount County Chamber of Commerce, among other charities.
Proffitt was both an American Red Cross board member for Knoxville and a Lifetime Board Member for Blount County, according to Stan Gibert, Red Cross East Tennessee regional communications director.
“We are grateful for his many years of service to his community and saddened by the loss. He will be deeply missed,” Gibert said.
Jess Hernandez, Red Cross East Tennessee Region Service to the Armed Forces manager, echoed Gibert’s sentiments.
“Every time Fred arrived in the Knoxville office, I knew immediately it was him by the sound of his voice, full of enthusiasm,” Hernandez said. “He was always upbeat, enthusiastic and always had something positive to say. Through my encounters with Fred, they would motivate me to want to work harder in the Red Cross mission.”
Proffitt also spent a lot of time helping the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.
“He was active, always the volunteer who was behind the scenes,” said Blount County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bryan Daniels. “He shied away from the limelight and preferred being active behind the scenes. Up until he died, he was very supportive of our organization.”
He is survived by his sister, Ruth Lightner; and nephews, David Lightner and Chris Borden. He requested no memorial service.