KLLM Transport
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Former KLLM Transport chairman dies at 72

July 21, 2023
Jack Liles, the son of co-founder Billy Liles, served as president, CEO, and chairman of the board during his 44-year career with the Mississippi-based refrigerated carrier.

William Jackson (Jack) Liles III, the former KLLM Transport Services president, CEO, and chairman who spent 44 years with the company his father helped found, died July 9 in Decatur, Georgia. He was 72 years old.

Jack joined the refrigerated carrier at 23 after serving in the Armed Forces. He worked in sales and operations, and ultimately led the company as president and CEO. He was named chairman of the board in 2008 and retired in 2018.

His father, Billy Liles, helped to found KLLM in 1964, along with Tom Kobuke, Benny Lee, and Henry Moudy.  Kobuke and Moudy soon left the company, leaving Lee and Billy at the helm, and they grew the carrier from on truck to 1,800 trucks.

As a young person, Jack realized he was bound to work every day and that if he worked for someone other than his dad, he would get paid. Thus began his ventures as a paper boy, a deliverer of cokes to job sites, catching baby turtles and selling them to the Ben Franklin store, and countless other ventures in his youth.

Jack also was a man of many passions, but fishing, hunting, cooking, and music topped the list. One of his most storied accomplishments was turning his father onto the music of Ray Charles and Willie Nelson in the 1960s. Born in Grenada, Mississippi, he also carried his love of Mississippi with him until the day he died.

And that is where his remains will be laid to rest, KLLM said in a release.

A reception to honor his life will be held 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 26 at the MS Museum of Art, located at 380 South Lamar St. in Jackson, Mississippi.

Family and friends also can donate to Stewpot Community Services in his honor.

KLLM remains a Mississippi-based company because of Jack. In 2000, a competitor began buying KLLM stock and pursued a hostile takeover. Jack and his family also received several offers to sell the company, which would have been financially lucrative.

“[But] Jack’s loyalty to the KLLM employees and their families, along with the desire to continue the legacy of his father, drove him to turn down those offers and put together a deal with Bernie Ebbers to keep KLLM in Mississippi, providing continued employment for the KLLM families, who are very grateful for the sacrifices Jack and his family made for them,” the company said.

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