Dave Thomas

If you’ve ever eaten that Wendy’s, and most of us have, you probably know that the chain was founded by a guy named Dave Thomas. He needed a first daughter. And you probably remember his TV commercials:

Photo: John Mathew Smith

But here’s what you may not know about Dave Thomas. He was born during the Great Depression. Later he was adopted, but his home life was so unstable, he dropped out of high school and struck out on his own at age 15.

As a young man, he got into the restaurant business. And eventually, he started working with an older gentleman, who had just started his own business: Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I first met Dave Thomas in 1991, when he wrote a book that was part Memoir, part How to Succeed in Business.

So here now, from 1991, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas.

Now, there is more to the story. The following year, after our interview, Dave Thomas made a decision. He told me about it, the next time we met, in 1994:

Dave Thomas died just a few years later, in 2002, at the age of 69.

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