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Mark’s Mart founder dies at 90

Selma not only lost a well-respected business entrepreneur, but a great friend Wednesday as Odis King, patriarch of Mark’s Mart grocery store, died at the age of 90. Known to many as “Pop” or “Mr. Mark,” King had a strong presence in the community.

Establishing a name for himself in the early 1980’s when he purchased a small grocery store off Landline Road, which later became known as Mark’s Mart, King became dedicated to serving Selma with specialty meats and quality service.

“We would always fuss because when we were closing the store, ready to go home, if someone was beating on the door he would always let them in,” said Aaron Ellis, longtime Mark’s Mart employee. “He was always going the extra mile to give good customer service.”

After retiring from the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1978, King opened the first Mark’s Mart store on what used to be Jeff Davis Avenue. Some time after that, King purchased a small run-down grocery store on County Road 44 and began Mark’s Mart No. 2 — the only location that stands today.

Working at the second location for 33 years, Mark’s Mart grew to be a staple in the community, and King became a well-known face throughout Selma and Dallas County.

“He was just a wonderful person and someone who was good to know and someone who was good to work with,” said Mark Sexton, a current Mark’s Mart employee. “He was well thought of in this community and had been for a long, long time.”

Even after retiring from the business, Sexton said King would often pay a visit just to say hello to the customers, who became more like friends.

“He would sit behind the counter where the register is and people would come in and visit him,” Sexton said. “It gave him a lot of joy just to see people, just to talk to people.”

After serving several years in the Navy and then the Corps, King had a vision for a small business in Selma — a vision he saw through to success. His grandson, Jacob King, said he remembers his grandfather talking about his dream of “becoming his own boss.”

“He claims he drove past that store location everyday on his way to work, and he knew he wanted to buy it,” Jacob said. “So the day he retired he drove up there, put some money down, and he bought that store. He had a lot of vision for that location.”

Working at Mark’s Mart since age 15, Ellis said King became more of a father and role model for not only his employees, but also all those who visited the store.

“He was just always interested in people and good to people. He went the extra mile to help anyone,” Ellis said. “It’s been a while since I’d been around Mr. King, but I have nothing but good memories about him — he was just a really great guy.”

John Rich, who lived next door to King for some years, shared similar thoughts as Ellis, saying King was a great role model for all he came in contact with.

“There’s nothing negative to say about Odis — he was an awesome man. I looked at him like a father figure,” Rich said. “He was just a model person for the neighborhood, his family and his country.”

King’s son Rodney, who now manages the grocery store, said when his father passed away, surrounded by family and friends, his life was remembered by his positive spirit.

“When he passed, everyone just said he was a sweet man,” Rodney said. “He was good to everyone — his employees, his customers and his family.”

And although King may not be at the small grocery store anymore, ready to greet customers and offer a smile, family members and Mark’s Mart employees said his memory will not be forgotten.

“Towards the end, because of his health, he hadn’t been out to the store for some time. But people would still come in and ask about him and want to know what he’s doing,” Ellis said. “In that way, I guess he’s still here.”