Flowers Passes Away

Former chairman, baking industry leader dies at 85

Published in CSP Daily News

THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Langdon Strong Flowers, who helped shape and define Flowers Foods and its predecessor companies, Flowers Baking Co. and Flowers Industries, for 60 years, has passed away in Thomasville. Flowers was 85.

Our company has lost a great advisor, our nation one of its finest citizens, and our community its greatest champion, said George E. Deese, Flowers Foods' chairman, CEO and president.

Flowers' full-time career with the company that bears his name started in 1947, following his military service in World War II [image-nocss] and a stint at Douglas Aircraft; however, as a young man, Flowers worked in the family baking business part time.

When he joined the company in 1947, he first worked in the sales department, serving in all positions of leadership. He became president and COO in 1965, a member of the board when the company listed publicly in 1968, vice chairman and CEO in 1976, and chairman in 1981. Flowers retired in 1985 with the title of retired chairman, and he continued to serve as a member of Flowers' board until 2004 when he was named honorary director.

Flowers, along with his brother William Howard Flowers Jr. and the company's senior leadership team, directed the company's growth from a small baking company into one of the largest baked foods enterprises in the country. Today, Flowers Foods' annual sales are approaching $2 billion and its market capitalization is just over $2 billion.

Today, Flowers Foods' highest employee honorThe L.S. Flowers Spirit Awardbears his name, recognizing integrity, dedication to excellence, the ability to inspire others and caring actions.

A 1944 graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Flowers was presented the Barton Rogers Award, the highest honor MIT bestowed on a graduating senior. Soon after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the navy and completed his college education on the V-12 program. Upon graduation, he attended Midshipman's School at Notre Dame and received his commission as ensign. His active service during World War II was aboard the aircraft carrier Belleau Wood as engineering officer for Air Group 31. His ship was a part of Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet, which saw action off the coast of Japan near the end of the war. Flowers, by then promoted to Lt. JG, was one of the first U.S. servicemen to go ashore in Japan after the peace agreement was signed.

At the war's end, Mr. Flowers returned to MIT where he earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering. He then worked for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, Calif., joining the aeronautical design team there.

During his career, Flowers served the baking industry in other capacities, including chairman of the Southern Bakers Association, American Bakers Association and American Institute of Baking, as well as a member of the board of the National Association of Manufacturers.

Flowers also was active in politics, serving in a leadership role for President Ronald Reagan's successful 1984 re-election campaign, as a presidential elector from Georgia, and in leadership roles in other campaigns as well.

Flowers was no less active in his local community, serving in leadership positions for the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and other civic groups and charitable organizations. Flowers was named Thomasville/Thomas County Man of the Year in 1975.

He also was an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Thomasville, serving as deacon, elder and a Sunday school teacher for many years. He also served as a member of the Lay Committee for the Presbyterian Church and on the board of Columbia Seminary as well as Presbyterian College, which awarded him the honorary doctorate of humanities degree in appreciation for his service.

Married for almost 60 years to his childhood sweetheart, Margaret (Bobbie) Clisby Powell, she preceded him in death in 2004. They are survived by their five children 17 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Flowers Foods, founded in Thomasville, Ga., in 1919 and based there, is a major producer and marketer of packaged bakery foods. The company employs more than 700 people locally and approximately 7,800 companywide. It operates 36 bakeries that produce a variety of bakery products marketed in the Southeast, Southwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Among the company's top brands are Nature's Own, Cobblestone Mill, Blue Bird and Mrs. Freshley's.

CSP Daily News sends condolences to Flowers' family, friends and colleagues.