WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that James A. "Jim" Haslam II, founder of Pilot Travel Centers, has been selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Mr. Haslam joins 12 other accomplished business and civic leaders from across North America in receiving this honor in 2016. Since its establishment in 1947, the Horatio Alger Award is annually bestowed upon recognized leaders who have succeeded, despite facing adversity, and who are committed to both philanthropy and higher education.
Mr. Haslam was born in Detroit, MI to hardworking parents who eventually settled in St. Petersburg, FL. His father was a World War I veteran who worked for an automobile manufacturer. Mr. Haslam was very dedicated to his studies and became the first person in his family to go to college, attending the University of Tennessee where he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and played football for the Tennessee Volunteers. After graduation, Mr. Haslam was commissioned as Second Lieutenant and spent two years in the United States military, including service in Korea. Following his military service, he worked for Fleet Oil Company, where after just one year, he was appointed head of the company's new Sail Oil chain of stations. After spending three years learning the service station business, he used part of his savings to purchase a filling station in Gate City, VA. At the age of 27, Mr. Haslam founded Pilot Oil Company and later sold a 50 percent stake in the company to Marathon Oil, which allowed the company to further expand and open travel centers. Twenty years later, Mr. Haslam bought Marathon's share of Pilot and further built the brand nationwide, ultimately becoming the nation's largest operator of travel centers and largest seller of diesel fuel. In 2010, Pilot Travel Centers merged with Flying J to form Pilot Flying J, which operates more than 650 locations and employs more than 23,000 people.
"As a respected veteran, savvy entrepreneur and generous philanthropist, Mr. Haslam's life deeply reflects the principles of Horatio Alger," said Byron Trott, president and CEO, Horatio Alger Association and 2011 Horatio Alger Award recipient. "Like many of our Scholars, Mr. Haslam was the first person in his family to attend college, and with hard work and great determination, he became extraordinarily successful – both professionally and personally. I am pleased to welcome him as a Member of Horatio Alger Association."
A dedicated alumnus, Mr. Haslam, who formally served on the University of Tennessee's Board of Trustees, and his wife have made multiple donations to the school and its athletic programs. The Haslam family also donates to numerous other Knoxville-area institutions, including the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Knox-Area Rescue Ministries, the Salvation Army, the East Tennessee Historical Society, the Emerald Youth Foundation, the Foothills Land Conservancy, the Boys and Girls Club, United Way, St. John's Episcopal Cathedral and the Knoxville Zoo.
In accepting this honor, Mr. Haslam commented, "As the first in my family to pursue and achieve a college degree, I would have never imagined that I would be inducted into such an esteemed organization. I am thrilled to accept this Award. I only hope that my experience and mentorship will help these promising young Scholars realize their true potential and achieve their own dreams of a higher education."
Through its Members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this goal, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced numerous challenges, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming them. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $110 million to students in need. Scholarships are funded solely through the generosity of Association Members, Life Partners and friends.
Mr. Haslam and the Member Class of 2016 will be officially welcomed into the organization during the 69th Annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C., from March 31-April 2, 2016. In addition to recognizing these tremendous leaders, Horatio Alger Association will also honor its 2016 National Scholarship recipients, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and learn from one another.
For more information about Horatio Alger Association and a full list of its Class of 2016, please visit www.horatioalger.org.
About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity and pursue their dreams through higher education. Thanks to their generosity, the Association awards more than $11 million annually in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada and provides college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $110 million in college scholarships to more than 22,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.
SOURCE Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc.