ATLANTA, Sept. 8, 2014 — S. Truett Cathy meant something different to many people. To some, he was a man deeply concerned about foster kids. To others, he was a man whose faith was intrinsic to all be did. To others, he was simply a purveyor of tasty chicken sandwiches.
If nothing else, he was someone who stuck to his principles and put them first, even ahead of profits.
Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A died early Monday morning. He was 93.
“I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order,” Cathy often said, according to Chick-fil-A. “We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed. I have always encouraged my restaurant operators and team members to give back to the local community. We should be about more than just selling chicken, we should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.”
Cathy’s story has been retold hundreds of times.
Born March 14, 1921, in Eatonton, Ga., Cathy’s family moved to Atlanta when he was a young boy. In 1946, he and his brother, Ben, opened The Dwarf House, a small diner in Hapeville, Ga., that was the precursor to today’s Chick-fil-A. The original chicken sandwich was first created by Cathy and his brother Ben in 1967.
“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else—our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return,” Cathy wrote in Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People.
Cathy’s organization gives millions of dollars each year to groups, have founded 13 group foster homes, several schools of a higher learning, and a children’s camp. Chick-fil-A has granted employees college scholarships and have done many smaller acts, such as providing food during emergency events. The group founded the WinShape Foundation, a youth ministry organization, in 1984.
Despite being closed on Sundays, the chain has more than $5 billion in annual sales. According to Forbes, Cathy was one of the 75 richest people in the U.S. and was personally worth more than $6.3 billion. He is the recipient of numerous leadership and business awards writing “It’s Easier to Succeed Than to Fail,” “How Did You Do It, Truett?” and “Wealth, Is It Worth It?”.