Edwin Huger Poulnot III, of Charleston, the former president of Kerrison's Dry Goods Co. and an outspoken advocate for the revitalization of the King Street shopping district, died Wednesday. He was 88.
Born in Charleston on November 25, 1925, Poulnot studied at The Citadel before joining the Navy during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Duke University and started working for his father at Kerrison's in 1951.
While the department store had been a retail anchor on King Street since 1830, Poulnot recognized a shift in retail shopping habits and oversaw the expansion of Kerrison's stores into the Charleston suburbs.
Poulnot finally took over as president of Kerrison's in 1979 when his father stepped down for health reasons, making him the third generation of his family to run the business.
After Hurricane Hugo, the downtown Kerrison's struggled to reopen, and the chain of stores closed in the 1990s. Poulnot, however, remained active in the King Street retail community for several years, helping encourage continued growth along the corridor.
Throughout his lifetime, Poulnot was also active in various local organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, Historic Charleston Foundation and Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He was a former director of the National Retail Merchants Association.
Poulnot is survived by his wife, Joan Hutcheson Poulnot, as well as his two daughters, his son and eight grandchildren. A memorial service has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Grace Episcopal Church. Arrangements are being handled by James A. McAlister Funerals and Cremation.
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