Hollis Harris, Delta's former President and Chief Operating Officer and a legendary figure in the airline industry, passed away Wednesday. He was 84.
His airline career began at Delta in 1954 while he was taking classes in aeronautical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1961 while working for Delta's engineering department and rose through the airline's ranks. In 1987 he was named President and COO and a member of Delta's board.
"Hollis was a beloved leader at Delta and one of the people whose shoulders we stand proudly on," said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. "We all will miss him, and the thoughts and prayers of the entire Delta family are with Hollis' family today."
During his time as President, Harris launched Delta's first flight to Seoul, South Korea, just ahead of the 1988 Summer Olympics there.
In 1990 he joined Continental Airlines as President and CEO. Two years later he was named Chairman, President and CEO of Air Canada. He later returned to Continental to serve on their board of directors, and helped restructure that airline in bankruptcy.
Prior to joining the airline industry, Harris served as battery commander during the Korean War.
He was inducted into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.
A native of Carrollton, Ga., Harris was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 12 but fully recovered, an event that inspired his father to become a Methodist minister. He has lived in Peachtree City, Ga., since 1969.
He was married to Joyce Dolores Entrekin, who died in 2011. He has three children, Patricia, David and Jeffrey.