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John W. Rollins Sr., business visionary


John was a force in the state on so many levels, but his greatest impact was a 55-year run creating businesses in Delaware—second only to the DuPont Co. He pioneered car and truck leasing while the economy was coming out of its post-World War II chaos. To advertise his car dealerships, he started with radio stations, then cable TV, which became Rollins Inc. He was also a leader in the service industry, with Orkin and Rollins Protective. Even on vacation, the clean-up of the Thames in London inspired him to found Rollins Environmental for the United States. He created his vision for the state capital from a failing harness track: a top-class hotel, motor sports arena, harness racing track, casino and entertainment center. Dover Downs lives on as one of the top employers. He never neglected his community. He never said no to a request for tuition. He believed in public service, serving as lieutenant governor, and he fiercely loved his country and its democratic processes. Delaware was lucky to have John Rollins, but, then, it was mutual. He often said he could live anywhere—so long as it was Delaware. 

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