By Perry Hooper, Jr.
Most people remember Greg Calhoun as the founder of one of the largest minority owned grocery store chains in the South. The store had its beginnings when he purchased it at age 32, and he had previously bagged groceries at age 14.
This only represented a small portion of his business acumen. Greg represented the new minority business professional. His first venture out of the retail grocery business was when he formed Calhoun and Associates to assist Fortune 500 Companies with minority and diversity affairs.
Among his clients where such diverse enterprises as Coke and Nascar. One of his partners in this effort was Ervin “Magic” Johnson. He opened two consolidation warehouses in Texas where he serviced products throughout the West Coast. Greg founded Calhoun Communication to provide telecommunication services to businesses, especially minority owned businesses, looking for an alternative to major carriers with friendlier service at more competitive pricing. He also created Superior Brokerage, Access Communications and with his good friend comedian Steve Harvey, Harcal. One of Greg’s passions was helping minority celebrities enter the business world. Among his many clients was the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. Greg was a fixture on Black Enterprise Magazine’s top 100 minority owned businesses.
Greg received many awards for his community involvement but in my opinion the two most prestigious were: being recognized as the National Minority Retail Firm of the Year by the United States Department of Commerce and being the only minority chosen to tour with President Clinton in 1999 during the Economic Development Tour.
But when I reflect on the over 30 years of our friendship, I will remember Greg best for his generous spirit, giving his love and time to his family and helping the less fortunate. Greg was married to his wife Verlyn for over forty years and I remember them always working side by side. His three children, Malcolm, Shakeya, and Renard were always intricate parts of his many enterprises. He loved nothing more than spending time with his grandchildren.
Greg set up The Greg Calhoun Family Foundation to support his many causes. Greg hosted an annual golf tournament in conjunction with Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton. They brought in such dignitaries as Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield, Motown recording legend Smokey Robinson, Rap Mogul MC Hammer, Football Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor and Gayle Sayers, and Alabama football legend and Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsom to raise money for the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation and other worthwhile efforts.
Greg was known to open his wallet or give away free groceries when the need was there. He always took the time to learn about his employee’s families, and was always ready to help them out. He often gave jobs to people who others deemed “unemployable”.
Greg’s legacy will not only be his many business successes but his life time of giving back. He will be sorely missed. Greg my brother and friend you will always be one in a million.