Margaret Kristine "Kris" Hart, 48, passed away on Tuesday, the 17th of September, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by her family.
Kris Hart was the rarest of gems. She was an exceptional mother, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, business executive and lover of life– balancing and alternating among all roles with seeming effortlessness.
Kris was born in College Park, Georgia and attended Milton High School in Alpharetta, GA before heading to Auburn University where she earned a BA in Economics. She received her MBA in Marketing from Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management in 1992 and went on to a brilliant marketing and branding career that she began in Dallas as a Senior Analyst in Domestic Yield Management at American Airlines. Kris eventually headed to the west coast to become Director of Global Brand Strategy at Intel in Palo Alto. A move back to Atlanta in 2002 took her to the Coca-Cola Company where she became Group Lead for Innovation. When the career of her former husband, Heath Daughtrey, led them to Las Vegas in '04 Kris became Vice President of Brand Management at Harrah's Entertainment. In October 2007 an article in Advertising Age highlighted Kris' oversight of the historic $5 billion merger of Harrah's and Caesars, which created the world's largest casino company. Kris developed innovative new data-based non-gaming revenue streams for the company like fine dining and a luxury spa, areas in which Kris had amassed considerable personal experience. She became a fashion icon around the halls and properties of Harrah's, sporting her ever-stylish clothes, non-negotiable high heels and bald head.
In May of '04 they welcomed sweet Hudson and then twins Cooper and Jack in March of 2007. From the moment they entered her life, those boys were the center of her world.
In October of 2007, Kris was diagnosed with Stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. She fought it head on and continued to be a completely devoted mother to a four-year-old and seven-month-old twins while excelling in her full time, demanding career. In October 2008, a cover profile of her in Pink Magazine quoted her as saying, "You can choose to be a victim, or to frame things in a more positive way: 'So this has happened; let's all get the facts and fight it.' That's natural for me." Indeed it was. With Kris' innate winning attitude, calm steadiness and unflagging perseverance, she beat the cancer into remission for several years. Kris and the boys moved back home to Atlanta in 2009 where she reveled in creating their warm and gracious home, playing tennis with her dearly loved women's tennis group and spending time with her cadre of good friends and her adored parents. Her Aunt Bev said "Kris and Barbara were the very best of friends and she and her Dad shared that strategic focus and solid business acumen. They spoke the same language." Kris always admired and was so proud of her younger brother Kevin for following his passion and forging a life in Vail, CO where he met his wife Heidi, a professional snowboard instructor. Everyone who was blessed to spend time around her knew Kris' dry wit, self-deprecation and infectious laughter. In addition to time with her family and friends, Kris loved music, dancing, travel, elegant but edgy design, collecting contemporary art and reading.
Kris had just started a new job she was so excited about as Vice President of Product Strategy for Manheim in Atlanta. In late October of 2012, a nagging leg pain led to the devastating discovery that the cancer had returned. She again fought it with her same signature blend of tenacity, pragmatism, ingenuity and sheer will to prevail. Tragically, this time the cancer had gotten too much of a head start. Up until the very end, Kris never uttered one word of complaint and was her same vibrant, inspiring self, charging full throttle toward the exciting life she had planned for her and her cherished boys.
Kris is survived by her sons, Hudson (9) and twins Cooper and Jack (6); her parents, Bob and Barbara Hart of Roswell, GA; her brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Heidi Hart of Vail, CO; her aunt and uncle, Beverly and Jack Nichols of Columbia, SC; her cousin and her husband, Cyndi and Kenneth Long and Cyndi's children Gillis and Cross Coleman all of Columbia, SC. The family would like to thank Marmis Diaz Torres for her unfailing love and devotion to Kris, Hudson, Cooper and Jack over the last few years.
A memorial service will be held for Kris at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 28 at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church. Children are most welcome to attend. The family will gather at a later date to honor Kris' wishes that her ashes be spread over her beloved Big Sur, California. Roswell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
For those desiring, the family would appreciate contributions be made in her name to Kris' favorite charity, Press on to CURE Childhood Cancer (www.pressonfund.org
Please select "Press On Fund" in the Program Area of the website) or the charity of your choice.