Mark H. Willes

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Mark Hinckley Willes is a former professor, business executive, publisher, and philanthropist. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Willes was born on July 16, 1941, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother, Ruth Hinckley Willes, was a sister to Gordon B. Hinckley. He received his bachelor’s and PhD degrees from Columbia University. Upon graduation in 1967, he became an assistant professor of finance and commerce at Wharton School of Business. In 1971, he became a researcher with the Philadelphia Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank. Later, he was appointed vice president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve. He became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 1977.

In 1980, he became executive vice president and chief financial officer of General Mills. In 1985, he was elected president, chief operating officer, and a director. He was elected vice chairman of the board in 1992. In 1990 he was elected a director of Black & Decker and served until 2001. He was re-elected to the board in 2004.

In 1995, Willes moved to the Times Mirror Company and was appointed director, president, and chief executive officer. In 1996, he was elected to an additional assignment as chairman of the board. From 1997 to 1999, he was publisher of the Los Angeles Times. He retired when the Tribune Company purchased Times Mirror.

Willes taught business at Brigham Young University for about one year. He then served as president of the Hawaii Honolulu Mission with his wife, Laura F. Willes. In 2005 he served as chairman of the board of the Polynesian Cultural Center. He became the president and chief executive officer of Deseret Management Corporation in 2009, a post he held until his retirement in 2012. In a time when many newspapers and news agencies were struggling financially and going out of business, Willes helped the corporation remain viable.

Willes donated to the construction of the canoe learning compound at the Polynesian Cultural Center. In honor of this donation, BYU–Hawaii renamed its business school the Mark and Laura Willes Center for International Entrepreneurship. He also donated to BYU’s Maxwell Center for Religious Scholarship and the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies was named in his wife’s honor. He and his wife are part of BYU’s President’s Leadership Council Executive Committee.

He and his wife are the parents of five children.