Fried chicken king Hannon dies at 84

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The patriarch of Vicksburg’s Kentucky Fried Chicken stores was remembered this morning as a community-minded businessman and a loving father.

Bobby Gene Hannon died at his Vicksburg home Tuesday. He was 84. Services were under the direction of Riles Funeral Home.

“He was a great businessman,” said daughter, Barbara Rials. “He always involved in stuff in the community.”

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Hannon, a Smithville, Miss. native, opened his first franchise in Vicksburg in 1965 after his service with the Army reserves in the Korean War and 10 years with DuPont in Memphis. Franchises he owned and operated stretched throughout Mississippi and Louisiana.

Over the years, groups of businesspeople and civic groups met for breakfast in his stores — the KFC Breakfast Club.

“Groups of men would meet for breakfast there,” Rials said. “I don’t know how many of them it would be.”

Four locations operated in Vicksburg in Hannon’s franchise footprint at its height — 3407 Washington St., 3144 Indiana Avenue, 2600 Halls Ferry Road and 2915 Clay St. The Indiana and Clay locations remain open today. Locations run by relatives operate in the Jackson area.

In recent years, Rials’ husband, Robert, had run the two surviving stores, Rials said.

“(Bobby) still went to the office and checked everything until he got sick,” she said.

Funeral services are 11 a.m. Friday, followed by a private internment at Lakewood Memorial Park in Jackson.