Wilber Hardee

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Wilber Hardee
Born (1918-08-15)August 15, 1918
Martin County, North Carolina, United States
Died June 20, 2008(2008-06-20) (aged 89)
Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Resting place
Cremation, inurned at Pinewood Memorial Park, Greenville, NC
Occupation Entrepreneur

Wilber Hardee (August 15, 1918 – June 20, 2008) was the founder of the American fast-food restaurant chain Hardee's, located mostly in the Midwest and Southeast regions.


Wilber Hardee was born in Martin County, North Carolina on August 15, 1918. His first name is commonly misspelled as Wilbur, but Wilber is the way he spelled it himself. See his autobiography The Life and Times of Wilber Hardee [1]. Raised on his family's farm, he eventually left the family business to become a musician and later a grill cook. Hardee joined the United States Navy during World War II, but upon his uncle's death, he returned to the United States. After returning he met and married Kathryn Roebuck in 1945 .[2]

With his wife, he opened a series of restaurants and inns in North Carolina, including the Do Drop Inn and Port Terminal Inn and the Silo Restaurant. He studied the things that the public seems to respond to the most at existing quick-serve restaurants at the time and an idea formed that would evolve into the first Hardee's restaurant concept. On September 3, 1960, he opened the first Hardee's location in his hometown of Greenville.[3]

Wilber Hardee died in his home town of Greenville, North Carolina on June 20, 2008, and was cremated two days later.[2][3] His cremains are inurned in Greenville at Pinewood Memorial Park in the Floral Garden 4 Section.[4]

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