Charles J. “Red” Mullinax, 87, a resident of Cleveland, passed away peacefully at his home Sunday in the same manner he lived his life, according to his friends and family.
Johnny Holden, who founded Pioneer Credit, and Ken Rayborn, former president of First Citizens Bank (BB&T) said Mullinax was a kind man who gave abundantly to the community.
“He was low key about it,” Holden said. “He was a Christian man, the salt of the earth. He was very philanthropic and will be greatly missed.”
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland described Mullinax as an outstanding businessman whose business practices were beyond reproach.
“He was a friend to Cleveland and his contributions to the community will be missed,” Rowland said.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said, "I am saddened at the news of Mr. Mullinax's passing. I worked with him for many years when he was owner of Superior Olds-Cadillac. He was a dedicated civic and community leader and my thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Mullinax was a member of North Cleveland Church of God since 1947, where he served on the pastoral council, the building committees, and the International Radio and Television Board of the Church of God. He was a 52-year member of the Unity Sunday School class. He was a veteran of World War II during which he served in the U.S. Navy Seabees stationed in the Pacific.
After the war, he along with his father and brother opened a used car dealership in Cleveland known as Mullinax Motors. In the 1950s, the three men organized Capitol Motor Sales in Chattanooga which later became Capitol Toyota. In 1964, Red and his brother Don purchased the Lincoln Mercury dealership in Cleveland. In 1967, he secured the Oldsmobile Cadillac and GMC dealership which he named Superior Olds Cadillac GMC, which he sold in 1999.
He was the driving force behind the organization of First Citizens Bank and was responsible for selecting all those involved in the development of the new bank. He was a charter board member of Pioneer Credit.
Rayborn said he was probably closer to him than anyone because they were always together.
“He was the guy who started First Citizens Bank. It was his idea,” Rayborn said. “They brought me in as president in 1973. He was a wonderful friend who always stood for what is right. There not a man alive I trust more.”
Mullinax was preceded in death by his parents, Charles James and Jessie B. McDowell Mullinax; brother, Donald H. Mullinax; and sisters: Sandy Mullinax Williams and Dorothy Mullinax Grigsby. He is survived by one sister, Virginia R. Mullinax of Cleveland.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Geneva Sliger Mullinax, of Cleveland; daughter and son-in-law, Jan Mullinax Linder and Tom of Atlanta; one grandson and wife, Scott Fitzgerald Johnson and Carol of Bethesda, Md.; three great-grandchildren: Susanna, Daniel and Thomas Johnson, all of Bethesda; extended family members: Mark Linder and wife, Christy, and their son Brock of Springfield; and several nieces and nephews.
Rayborn said Mullinax loved his family. He never said a bad word and was a devout Christian.
“He was interested in the community and was always supportive of a good cause,” Rayborn said.