S. Truett Cathy

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S. Truett Cathy
Cathy on August 28, 2004
Cathy on August 28, 2004
Samuel Truett Cathy

(1921-03-14)March 14, 1921
DiedSeptember 8, 2014(2014-09-08) (aged 93)
EducationHenry W. Grady High School[1]
Known for
Jeannette McNeil Cathy
(m. 1948)
"Food Is Essential to Life", says Truett Cathy on sign in Chick-fil-A in San Antonio, Texas

Samuel Truett Cathy (March 14, 1921 – September 8, 2014) was an American businessman, investor, author, and philanthropist. He founded the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A in 1946.

Early life[edit]

Cathy was born on March 14, 1921, in Eatonton, Georgia, the son of Lilla James (née Kimball) and Joseph Benjamin Cathy.[3] He attended Boys High School (renamed Henry W. Grady High School in 1947 and Midtown High School in 2020) in Atlanta and later served in the United States Army during World War II. Cathy began the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville in 1946 with a restaurant called the Dwarf Grill, whose name arose 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 Jeannette McNeil, and they had three children: Trudy, Don "Bubba", and Dan.[4]


Cathy was a member of the Second Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, and taught Sunday School there for more than 50 years. He said that the Bible is his guidebook for life.[5] 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.[6] This policy began when Cathy was working six days a week, multiple shifts. He decided to close on Sundays.[5]

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 anthologies What My Parents Did Right[7] and Conversations on Success, and co-wrote with Ken Blanchard Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure. McDonough-Fayetteville Road in Fayette, Henry, and Clayton counties, is 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.[8]

In April 2008, he opened Upscale Pizza in Fayetteville, Georgia.[9] In November 2013, he retired as both chairman and CEO of Chick-fil-A, leaving his son, Dan Cathy, to assume the roles.[10]


S. Truett Cathy died at his home on September 8, 2014, of diabetic complications at the age of 93. The family held a public funeral service on Wednesday, September 10, at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Georgia.[11][12][13][14] His interment was at Greenwood Cemetery.

His widow, Jeannette Cathy, died in 2015 at age 92.[15]


Summer camp for girls at Berry College

Cathy was closely involved with the sponsorship of the college football bowl game now known as the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but from 1997 to 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 Taurus 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.[citation needed]

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.[16] In 1984, Cathy established the WinShape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners.[16][17] In addition, Cathy fostered children for more than 30 years. He received the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership in 2008.[16][17]

Honors and memberships[edit]

President George W. Bush stands with Truett Cathy after he received the Lifetime President's Volunteer Service Award at the White House

Cathy received numerous honors, including membership in Omicron Delta Kappa (ΟΔΚ), the National Leadership Honor Society. He received ΟΔΚ'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.[18][19]

He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Pi Fraternities.[20]

In 2007, Forbes magazine ranked Cathy as the 380th richest man in America and the 799th richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion.[21][22]

President George W. Bush bestowed the President's Call to Service Award on Cathy in 2008.[23]

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 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".[24]

In 1997, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Humane Letters from Oglethorpe University.[25]

In 2013, he was inducted as a Georgia Trustee. The honor is given by the Georgia Historical Society, in conjunction with the Governor of Georgia, to individuals whose accomplishments and community service reflect the ideals of the founding body of Trustees, which governed the Georgia colony from 1732 to 1752.[citation needed]


  • Cathy, S. Truett (2010), Wealth, Is It Worth It?, Looking Glass Books, ISBN 978-1929619405
  • —— (2007), How Did You Do It, Truett?: A Recipe for Success, Looking Glass Press, ISBN 978-1929619337
  • —— (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


  1. ^ "Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dies at Age 93". Chick-fil-A. September 19, 2014. Archived from the original on December 25, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2018. Born March 14, 1921, in Eatonton, Georgia, Cathy was four years old when his family moved to Atlanta, where he attended Boys High, now known as Grady High School.
  2. ^ Severson, Kim (September 8, 2014). "S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A Founder, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 6, 2018. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Arnold, Laurence (September 8, 2014). "S. Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A's Faith-Driven Founder, Dies at 93". Bloomberg.
  4. ^ The Cathy Family. "Cathy Family website". Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Cathy, S. Truett, It's Easier To Succeed Than Fail, Oliver-Nelson Books (1989); ISBN 0-8407-9030-9.
  6. ^ "Chick-fil-A's Closed-on-Sunday Policy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Table of contents". Table of contents for What my parents did right! : 50+ tips to positive parenting / compiled by Gloria Gaither. LCCN 2002068567.
  8. ^ Cathy, S. Truett Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People, 2002. Looking Glass Books; ISBN 1-929619-08-1.
  9. ^ Guy Collier, Joe (April 25, 2008). "Chick-fil-A founder opens pizza restaurant". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  10. ^ "Chick-Fil-A Founder Retiring As CEO, Chairman". CBS Atlanta. Associated Press. November 7, 2013.
  11. ^ "Chick-Fil-A Founder S. Truett Cathy Has Died". ABC News. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  12. ^ "Death of S.T. Cathy". ABC News. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  13. ^ Staff (September 8, 2014). "S. Truett Cathy In Memoriam". CFA Properties Inc. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "Truett Cathy Obituary" (PDF). The Cathy Family. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  15. ^ "Wife of Chick-fil-a founder, Jeannette Cathy passes". FOX 5 Atlanta. July 22, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c "2008 Simon Prize Recipient". Philanthropy Roundtable. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Samuel Truett Cathy Philanthropy". Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  18. ^ "Chick-fil-A Founder to Receive Award for Service to Youth". The Weekly Online!. May 25, 2007. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  19. ^ "Silver Buffalo Awards". Scouting: 37. September 2007. ISSN 0036-9500. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  20. ^ "Prominent Pikes". pike.org. Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  21. ^ "Forbes 400 Richest Americans (2007): #380 S Truett Cathy". Forbes. September 20, 2007. Net worth: $1.3 billion
  22. ^ "The World's Billionaires (2007): #799 S Truett Cathy". Forbes. March 9, 2007. Net worth: $4.5 billion
  23. ^ "S. Truett Cathy applauded by President Bush". Atlanta Business Chronicle. April 16, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  24. ^ O'Connor, Clare, "Romney Speaks At Anti-Gay Liberty University Alongside Baptist Billionaire", Forbes blog, May 12, 2012; retrieved May 12, 2012.
  25. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Oglethorpe University". Oglethorpe University. Archived from the original on March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.

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