Dave Thomas, Wendy's Founder and American Folk Here, Dies from Cancer
By Ina Steiner
Dave Thomas, 69, founder and senior chairman of Wendy's International Inc. passed away early Tuesday morning at his home in Florida from cancer of the liver. When Dave was 15, he made what he considered his greatest mistake: he dropped out of high school to work full time. In November 1969, he realized an important dream when he founded Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurants in downtown Columbus, Ohio. In 1992, Dave realized another important dream. He went back to school and received his GED from Coconut Creek High School in Ft. Lauderdale. He said this was one of his greatest accomplishments, as was being named "Most Likely to Succeed" by the graduating class of 1993.
In early 1989, Dave agreed to appear in a few Wendy's commercials. During his nearly 13-year run (and 800+ commercials) as Wendy's spokesman, Americans came to love him for his down-to-earth, homey style. This campaign made Dave one of the nation's most recognizable spokesmen. Because of his honesty and old-fashioned values, Dave emerged from Wendy's advertising campaign as an American folk hero.
In 1992, he established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a not- for-profit organization that provides grants to national and regional adoption organizations for programs that raise awareness and make adoption easier and more affordable. In an effort to bring more attention to the cause, Dave and his foundation partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to create the 33-cent adoption postage stamp. It was unveiled in October 1999 with Rosie O'Donnell at Rockefeller Center, and was available in May 2000. The colorful stamp featured the phrases "Adopting a Child, Shaping a Life, Building a Home, Creating a World."
Thomas is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lorraine, five children: Pam, Ken, Molly, Wendy and Lori, and 16 grandchildren.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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