Skip to comments.Good Fathers: A Tribute To Wendy's Dad, Dave Thomas
Posted on 01/16/2002 4:21:50 PM PST by Starmaker
In 1993, at the age of 61, he hired a tutor, studied for, took, and passed the G.E.D.
He was awarded his high school diploma from Coconut Creek High School in Fort Lauderdale, and was voted Most Likely To Succeed.
He and his wife were king and queen of the 1993 Coconut Creek senior prom.
The Guinness Book of World Records recognized him for the Longest Running Television Advertising Campaign Starring a Company Founder.
And rightly so; this and many more honors were merited for the well-beloved pitchman and founder of the famous Wendy´s Restaurant chain.
It is time to say farewell to a good man: Wendy´s father, Dave Thomas, passed away from cancer earlier this month at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 69, and is survived by his five children, his sixteen grandchildren, and his wife of forty-seven years.
Dave Thomas started the hamburger restaurant chain in Columbus, Ohio, on November 15, 1969. He named it after his beloved daughter, Melinda Thomas, who was nicknamed Wendy by her older siblings. Wendy herself was there to greet customers on opening day, wishing them well and inviting them to enjoy her dad´s hamburgers.
An orphan, Thomas was adopted as a baby and grew up in poverty. He secured his first restaurant job at the age of 15 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was impressed with his boss´ work ethic, and vowed to have one as great.
In tenth grade, he dropped out of school and went to work full-time. He worked for the Army for a while, and then returned to Fort Wayne. There, he found that his old boss was running some of the early KFC franchises. Unfortunately, they were suffering financially despite a quality product. Recognizing Thomas´ natural business acumen, his old boss offered Thomas a deal: turn the KFC franchises around, make them profitable, and he would get a 40% share of them.
Thomas took the bet.
And won, big time.
In 1968, he sold the franchises for 1.5 million dollars. You and I regard 1.5 million dollars as just chump change, the kind of money we invest in a single day, but in 1968, it was a whole lot of money. It was enough to let Thomas start his dream: the Wendy´s restaurants.
His goal was to have five restaurants, one for each of his daughters and sons.
He succeeded with that and got 6,000 more to boot.
Running Wendy´s, Thomas worked hard to maintain high-quality standards. He often noted that his own grandmother had asked him to never cut corners: thus the square burgers!
For being morally conservative, Thomas took a lot of unmerited flack from heartless leftist hacks. This is quite familiar; I identify very greatly.
However, I follow his example, for Dave Thomas never let this slow him down.
Thomas started the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992, and put a massive amount of his own hard-earned money into it.
Of the Foundation, Thomas said, When we formed the Foundation in 1992, I could only imagine the personal joy of helping a child become adopted. Today, my greatest heroes are the children and parents who´ve come together as families. But, I´m keenly aware of the thousands of children who so desperately need loving families. At the Foundation, we are committed to finding families for our country´s waiting children our work is far from over with 134,000 children awaiting adoption.
With Thomas gone, the Foundation will continue what was his work and his greatest passion: making sure that every child had a good family and home.
Also continuing on Thomas´ work is the Dave Thomas Center for Adoption Law at Capital University.
"He was the world´s greatest champion for kids in need of safe, permanent homes," said Prof. Kent Markus of Capital University Law School, who serves as the Director of the Thomas Adoption Law Center.
"Dave Thomas wanted every child to have the chance he had when he was adopted he wanted every child to have the love of a family. He dedicated his time, his charisma, his energy, his celebrity and his none too limited persuasive capabilities to the adoption cause day after day after day," Markus noted.
"We will miss his leadership, his clarity of purpose and his kind soul."
In addition to his world-class philanthropy, Thomas was an excellent businessman. One of his mentors was Harland Sanders...known across America as Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Thomas pulled off a business miracle when he turned his single, first Wendy´s restaurant into what can only be called a hamburger empire: Wendy´s now serves approximately five million customers every day, and in tandem with Tim Horton´s (also under the Wendy´s International banner) could boast of systemwide sales of nearly 7.7 billion dollars a year, per the Investor´s Information Report for 2000, released in November 2001.
Thomas wrote about his incredible business acumen, financial strategies, and work ethic in the excellent book, Dave's Way : A New Approach to Old-Fashioned Success.
In business and in life, Dave Thomas was a great man. Raised in poverty, he kept his eyes on the prize, articulated his dream, made it a reality, and built an empire.
Adopted himself, as an infant, he dedicated his fortune and his time to making the world a better place for all.
Dave Thomas was Wendy´s dad.
Without question, he is worth paying tribute to.
And so I have.
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