Vernon Carver Rudolph was born in Marshall County, Kentucky. He was the oldest of four children born to Plumie and Rethie Rudolph. As he grew older, he began to help in the general store that his uncle owned.
When he graduated high school, he went to Paducah, Kentucky with his uncle. In 1933, Rudolph's uncle bought a doughnut shop and recipe for yeast-raised donuts from a French federal employee named Joe LeBeau. This all occurred during the middle of the great depression, so they moved to Nashville, Tennessee to see if they could get better business there and secure their financial future. Things did not work out for them in Nashville, so they moved back to Kentucky where Rudolph's uncle sold his business to his brother, Rudolph's father. His son, Lewis, started working for the shop. In 1936. his father opened another shop in Charleston, West Virginia and a few years later, a third shop in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the summer of 1937, determined to own his own Krispy Kreme shop, Rudoph decided to move to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home to the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, as he was smoking a Camel cigarette. He rented a building across from Salem College and Academy, and on July 13, 1937, using that original recipe. His first customers were local grocery stores, but people began to stop by the store asking if they could buy hot doughnuts. In the 1940s, he sold franchises and in 1947, he founded the Krispy Kreme Corporation, becoming Chairman and President.
In 1939, he married Ruth Ayers, who was from Atlanta, Georgia. They adopted a baby girl, Patricia Ann, in 1943. In 1944, his wife died in a car accident in Orangeburg, South Carolina. In 1946, he got married again, to Lorraine Flynt of Winston-Salem, NC. They had four children, Vernon Carver Jr., Sanford, Curtis, and Beverly.
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