Article Sep 8, 2014

5 facts about Truett Cathy

Chick-fil-A founder and philanthropist S. Truett Cathy died today at the age of 93. Here are five facts about one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs.

1. Truett Cathy was an restaurateur, devout Southern Baptist, and longtime Sunday School teacher. He became a self-made billionaire (he was listed as #75 on Forbes list of U.S. richest people) through hard work and innovation. At the time of his death, Cathy’s estimated net worth was $6.3 billion. But his faith was the driving force in his life. Cathy was a member of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, and also taught Sunday school for more than 50 years.

2. In 1964, a company that cooked boneless, skinless chicken for airline meals wanted to sell Cathy pieces that were too big for the airline's needs. Cathy cooked the chicken in a pressure cooker, put it on a buttered bun, and invented the company’s trademark chicken sandwich. Cathy sold the sandwich at independent restaurants for a few years before opening his first Chick-fil-A restaurant at an Atlanta shopping mall in 1967.

3. Chick-fil-A's became well-known for their counter-cultural policy of closing their stores on Sundays. According to the Chick-fil-A's website, the closing  provides employees an “opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so.” Cathy has explained his policy by saying, "Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and directing our attention to things more important than our business. If it took seven days to make a living with a restaurant, then we needed to be in some other line of work. Through the years, I have never wavered from that position."

4. In 1982, Truett founded WinShape, a nonprofit organization and charitable foundation that has one simply goal: “to strengthen families and bring people closer to God and each other.” Each ministry within the WinShape Foundation is committed to “equipping Christ-centered servant leaders who live life on purpose; with purpose; from children to college students, families, couples, business leaders and others in need around the world.” As part of Cathy's WinShape Homes program, 13 foster care homes are operated by Cathy and the WinShape Foundation to provide long-term care for foster children within a positive family environment.  WinShape Homes has provided a safe and secure home to more than 450 children in which they could grow physically, spiritually and emotionally.

5. Cathy wrote five books outlining his life and business philosophy: An autobiography, Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People; a motivational book, It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail); a parenting book, It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men; an explanation of his business success, How Did You Do It, Truett?; and a book on the significance of money, Wealth, Is It Worth It?.

Other Articles in the 5 Facts Series:

Hunger in America • Suicide in America • Christian Persecution •  Civil Rights Act of 1964 • Supreme Court’s contraceptive mandate decision • Fathers and Fathers Day • Euthanasia in Europe • Marriage in America • March for Life • Abortion in America • ‘War on Poverty’

Image credit: Robert Du Bois

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