S. Truett Cathy
|S. Truett Cathy|
Cathy on August 28, 2004
|Born||Samuel Truett Cathy
March 14, 1921
Eatonton, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||September 8, 2014
Clayton County, Georgia, U.S.
|Alma mater||Henry W. Grady High School|
|Known for||Founder and former chairman of Chick-fil-A|
|Net worth||$4.2 billion (2012)|
|Spouse(s)||Jeannette (McNeil) Cathy (m. 1948; wid. 2014)|
Cathy was born Samuel Truett Cathy in Eatonton, Georgia on March 14, 1921. He attended Boys High School (now Henry W. Grady High School) in Atlanta. Cathy served in the United States Army during World War II. Cathy began the chain in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville in 1946 with a restaurant called the Dwarf Grill, named because of its small size. It was there that he, along with his brother and business partner Ben, created the chicken sandwich that later became the signature menu item for Chick-fil-A. The original restaurant (since renamed Dwarf House) is still in operation and the company operates other Dwarf House locations in the metro Atlanta area. He married Jeanette and had three children: Trudy, Don ("Bubba"), and Dan.
Cathy was a member of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, and taught Sunday School there for more than 50 years. He said that the Bible is his guide-book for life. Due to his strong religious beliefs, all of the company's locations, whether company-owned or franchised, are closed on Sundays to allow its employees to attend church and spend time with their families. This policy began when Cathy was working six days a week, multiple shifts. He decided to close on Sundays.
Cathy wrote five books: the autobiography Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, a motivational book entitled It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, the parenting book It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, an explanation of his business success in How Did You Do It, Truett?, and a final book on the significance of money in today's society titled Wealth, Is It Worth It?. He also contributed to the anthology Conversations on Success and co-wrote with Ken Blanchard Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure. A portion of Jonesboro and McDonough Roads in Henry, and Clayton counties, respectively, are named in his honor. Cathy said that the motivational book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill was one of the greatest foundations for inspiration growing up.
S. Truett Cathy died at his home on September 8, 2014 of natural causes at the age of 93. The family held a public funeral service on Wednesday, September 10 at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Georgia.
Philanthropy and political contributions
Cathy was closely involved with the sponsorship of the college football bowl game now known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but from 1997-2005 known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and prior to that simply as the Peach Bowl. On October 28, 2006, Cathy received the last vehicle off the assembly line of Ford's Atlanta plant, in recognition of a 60-year relationship between him and the plant. The plant, located near Cathy's original Dwarf Grill (now Dwarf House), opened one year after the restaurant opened, and Truett regularly served during all three shifts at the plant.
Cathy had a Leadership Scholarship program for Chick-fil-A restaurant employees, which has awarded more than $23 million in $1,000 scholarships in the past 35 years. In 1984, Cathy established the WinShape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners. WinShape Foundation consists of WinShape Homes, WinShape RetreatSM, WinShape MarriageSM, WinShape Camps, WinShape, College Program, WinShape Wilderness and WinShape International. In 2010, the foundation provided roughly $18 million to fund the development of foster homes and summer camp. Past donations from the WinShape Foundation include the funding of several college scholarships and marriage counseling programs. The foundation has awarded nearly 820 students of Berry College with scholarships of up to $32,000.
Cathy fostered children for more than 30 years, and took in nearly 200 foster children through WinShape Homes. WinShape Homes is a long-term foster care program that includes 11 foster homes throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.
In 2008, the WinShape Foundation won the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic leadership which awarded it $250,000 towards future philanthropy, as a result of its contributions to society. The prize was created to further ideals such as personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people who help themselves. It honors living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their charitable giving, highlights the power of philanthropy to achieve positive change, and seeks to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results. In recognition of his philanthropic efforts through WinShape, he received the Children's Champion Award for Family and Community from the charitable organization Children's Hunger Fund in 2011.
Since 2003, WinShape has donated more than $5 million to groups including Exodus International and the Family Research Council which strongly oppose same sex marriage and other initiatives supported by the LGBT community.
Honors and memberships
Cathy received numerous honors, including membership in Omicron Delta Kappa (OΔK), the National Leadership Honor Society. He received OΔK's highest award, the Laurel Crowned Circle Award in 2009. He also received the Norman Vincent and Ruth Stafford Peale Humanitarian Award, the Horatio Alger Award, the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, and the Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award. Cathy was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2003.
Cathy was inducted into the Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers on April 3, 2011. In addition to being inducted into the Society, the university also conferred upon Cathy an honorary doctorate of business. In May 2012, Cathy received an honorary doctorate along with presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Liberty University's spring commencement ceremony. In his remarks, Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee at the time, said, "The Romney campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a Chick-fil-A. Your chicken sandwiches were our comfort food through the primary season, and heaven knows there were days that we needed a lot of comfort." Romney congratulated Cathy on his "well-deserved honor today".
- Cathy, S. Truett (2010), Wealth, Is It Worth It?, Looking Glass Books, ISBN 1929619405
- —— (2007), How Did You Do It, Truett?: A Recipe for Success, Looking Glass Press, ISBN 1929619332
- —— (2004), It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men, Looking Glass Books, ISBN 1929619200
- —— (2002), Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, Looking Glass Books, ISBN 1-929619-08-1
- —— (1989), It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, Thomas Nelson Inc., ISBN 0840790309
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- "Silver Buffalo Awards". Scouting: 37. September 2007. ISSN 0036-9500. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
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- "Forbes 400 Richest Americans (2007): #380 S Truett Cathy". Forbes. September 20, 2007. "Net worth: $1.3 billion"
- "The World's Billionaires (2007): #799 S Truett Cathy". Forbes. March 9, 2007. "Net worth: $4.5 billion"
- "S. Truett Cathy applauded by President Bush". Atlanta Business Chronicle. April 16, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- O'Connor, Clare, "Romney Speaks At Anti-Gay Liberty University Alongside Baptist Billionaire", Forbes blog, May 12, 2012; retrieved 2012-05-12.
- Chick-fil-A website; accessed September 8, 2014.
- Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans: S. Truett Cathy; accessed September 8, 2014.