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Mark Williams Dies at 58

Long-time frozen category manager at Harris Teeter is recalled for friendship, professionalism and love of golf.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams, long-time category manager of frozen foods at Harris Teeter and most recently the senior vp of sales analytics for Halo Brands, Charlotte, N.C., died on Oct. 25. He was 58. Known as a consummate professional with a great sense of humor and a love for golf, many in the industry described him as “like a brother.”
Damon DeCristoforo, CEO of Halo Brands, said one of Williams’ best qualities “was his ability to bring people together no matter where they were from… He truly cared about the business, the people he worked with, and the people he was serving — he always wanted to get it right.”
DeCristoforo said Williams’ knowledge of category management “was second to none… he loved tearing apart a new category and trying to find what made it tick. His enthusiasm made everyone want to do more.
Williams created the Power Shelf at Harris Teeter to “help the little guy compete,” according to DeCristoforo. He assisted many companies in growing their businesses, and was active in the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association.
A lifelong avid golfer, Williams started the Harris Teeter Golf League and started the annual Harris Teeter NFRA golf outing to thank the vendor community. He played many of the top 100 courses in the world, including in Mexico, Ireland and Scotland. One highlight was a hole in one at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, hole No. 4.
“Once, years ago, Mark’s ball landed only four feet from the pin on a par 5 hole,” recalled Johnny Harris, retired category manager of dairy at Harris Teeter. “He should have birdied, but he wound up with a ten. He was my partner, and I asked him what the heck was going on. He told me, ‘I’m gonna be a daddy again.’ He’d just found out. Mark was a great family man.”
Charles Brame, director of Our Brands at Harris Teeter, recalled Mark’s regular golf games with friends, and “the smile and laughter that he always had” bringing joy to many. Brame added that Mark loved the band U2, traveling to many concerts. “As the title of one U2 song states, “With or Without You,” we will miss you Mark but you will always be in our thoughts and memories forever,” he said.“I loved Mark’s attention to detail,” said Travis Hubbard, vp sales for Advantage Solutions. When we worked together at Harris Teeter, I would often tell him, “No need to build an aircraft carrier when a canoe will do.” He would always build the aircraft carrier. He put together a perfect trip to Chicago for us to see U2, visit a couple of clients, play a great day of golf and end up after the concert at an invite-only party. I will never forget his smile as we were leaving the next day knowing that everything went as planned.”
Jerry Clontz, now retired as president of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division and the former senior vp of operations at Harris Teeter, worked with Williams at Harris Teeter. “His knowledge and experience was the key to our success in our business,” he said. “Mark never met a stranger, which was a big part of his business success. He loved golf, and his family was always at the top of his list. He will truly be missed.”
At press time, a large group of Williams’ friends were gathering to discuss ways to help the family and honor his memory. For information, contact DeCristoforo at damon@halobrands.com.
—Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

Warren is the Editor Emeritus, Managing Partner for Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.

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20 Responses

  1. Mark was a constant smile and laugh waiting to happen. He was a friend and worked tirelessly to help me transition into Category Management serving as my primary trainer for quite some time spending many a late night in the office helping me. He is gone way too soon and will continue to create smiles and laughs as people reflect back on any time spent with him. RIP my friend and make sure that you make the other angels putt it out.

  2. Mark (Marko) will be truly missed, but never forgotten. He was a truly passionate person that would always make you feel like you were the only person in the room. His humor, his laugh and his infectious smile was always front and center. So many great memories with Mark – something we can all hold onto as so many grieve this loss. My hope is that all of us – led by his close comrades in the Carolinas – will set up a way to give back to Mark’s family. He deserves that from us all, and he would do the same for others. We will miss you Marko.

  3. Mark was an amazing person. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have had Mark in my life. Mark was one of the best and he was always professional, caring, thoughtful and his smile was contagious. I will never forget all the funny and special stories about the kids that he shared. Sending my Prayers and love to Shelley and the family.

  4. Mark was a wonderful Father to his family and a friend for everyone he met. His beautiful smile and warm personality were wonderful gifts which he gladly shared. Heaven has gained an angel! God bless Mark and his wonderful family!

  5. Mark is gone, but he will not be forgotten. He was a dear friend. Loved his positive and winning attitude. Rest in peace my friend.

  6. What an amazing guy. I knew him only a couple of years, but talking to him made you feel like you knew him a lifetime. No question that his presence will be missed by all that got to know him.

  7. Mark was truly a friend to all. He was one who brought people together. Whether it was letting the little guy have a chance as my frozen Category Manager at HT, or beyond as a friend. His smile, laugh, and big heart will truly be missed by all. We were all lucky to have had him in our lives. Great guy, Great Friend. Miss you Marko!

  8. Mark was a terrific guy and a pleasure to do business with. His passion, excitement, knowledge and recommendations were just a few of his outstanding qualities. I will always remember his big smile and how happy he was to see you. I will miss you Mark.

  9. Mark was a super guy that had a huge heart. He was always smiling and had such an infectious laugh about him. He will be missed greatly. Rest In Peace, Mark.

  10. Mark was a great guy. I had the opportunity to call on him for many years and I learned a lot from him. Even better, he was such a nice person and a joy to be around. He was a great story teller with all his inflections, hand waving, laughs, and spot on timing! One of my favorite memories is a meeting I had with him in his cubicle at HT. He was telling me a story and getting tickled telling it. Which made me start laughing. We were laughing so hard and so loud that we got in trouble for being too loud! That only made us laugh harder! We had to go outside for him to finally be able to get the story out!! He will be missed by so many and remembered fondly for his smile, laughter, stories, and warm personality. Blessings and peace to his family as they mourn.

  11. Mark was one of the sweetest persons I have known. He had a huge heart and genuinely cared about others. He introduced me to one of my all time favorite songs “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2. He used the song as a back drop to the pictures taken of a golf trip to Ireland. I fell in love with that song the first time he showed it to me. Rest in peace my friend…I will be praying for Shelley and the whole family.

  12. Mark was a fantastic person that made a very positive impact on our industry. Mark’s pleasant demeanor and kindness to all made him a unique individual that will be truly missed by those who knew him. Great friend, great man.

  13. Mark was an incredible person and he has left us to soon. I remember early in my career meeting Mark and from the first time I met him to the last he was always the most positive, energetic and optimistic person. I will miss working with him,

  14. Mark was one of a kind. One of the nicest, honest, caring and loyal friend one ever have or hope for. A true professional in every sense of the word. Family and friendship were very important to him and he excelled with both. We will miss him terribly. His warmth, his sense of humor, his generosity with his time and treasure will never be forgotten. We love and will miss you, Marko.

  15. Mark left us too soon. We all are certainly most fortunate to have known, worked and made a loop around the course with Mark Williams. A very dear friend will be terribly missed, our treasured memories are Mark’s gift to us all.

  16. Mark was truly one of my best friends for over 25 years and the heartbreak I have felt since last Tuesday is one that will stay with me forever. He was truly a class act in every way. His love for the food business, U2, and golf was only second to how much he cherished and loved his family everyday. All of us who were lucky enough to have Mark in our lives are very fortunate and blessed. There is not enough space or time to remember all the amazing times we had together and I will cherish those memories forever. Rest in peace my good buddy.

  17. Mark Williams was the best! He was a bright light that will be missed by so many and will not be forgotten. Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend like Mark during their life and I am one of the many lucky ones to be able to say he was my dear friend!

    Damon DeCristoforo

  18. Such a great guy. Mark was always a professional category manager and had a passion to grow the bus.

  19. So hard to believe at such a young age.Mark was one of the great guys in our industry.Always met you with a smile.Cared for people no mater who you were.The Big guys got something he needs done and picked Mark.

  20. So heart breaking. Mark was one of the best and will be sorely missed. I’m sure he’s got a lot of tee times lined up in heaven right now.

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