Dave Thomas was the founder of the fast food resturant Wendy's. He began his work in the restaurant industry at the age of 12, at the Regas Restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee, his home. After his family moved, at age 15, he began to work at the Hobby House Restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His family then decided to move again, but Dave instead got a room at the local YMCA so he could continue working full time, and decided to drop out of school. At the age of 18 Dave enlisted in the United States Army until 1956, when he returned home to work at the Hobby Ranch House. At this point Dave met his new mentor, Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC. In 1962 his boss Philip Clauss offered him the chance to turn around four failing KFC restaurants in Columbus, Ohio. If successful, Dave would earn 45% of the profit. The restaurants all became successes, and Clauss sold the restaurants back to KFC, making Dave a 35 year old millionaire.
With his new-found wealth he wanted to open a hamburger restaurant, as it had been his childhood dream. He named it Wendy's, after his 8 year old daughter Melinda who was nicknamed Wendy by her siblings. He opened its doors in 1969 in Columbus, promising a higher quality restaurant than its competitors. Over the years, Wendy's gained quite a bit of fast food firsts, such as homemade chili, baked potatoes with choice of toppings, not to mention the packing innovation of square hamburgers. In 1973 Dave began to franchise these restaurants, which now add up to about 5,800 worldwide.
In 1989, Dave began to star in his own advertisements on TV, always in a short-sleeved shirt and red tie, to promote his restaurant and new products, such as the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and the Bacon Mushroom Melt. These commercials made him into a household name.
In 1992, Dave formed the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a program to assist waiting children to find families more quickly, which has had successes in that area. In 1993 Dave earned his GED and got a high school diploma from Coconut Creek High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He earned the Most Likely To Succeed award as well as being named the prom king with his wife, Lorraine.
Dave received quadruple-bypass heart surgery in December of 1996, and had been receiving regular dialysis treatments due to kidney problems since early 2001. He passed away today, January 8, 2002, from complications due to liver cancer. He will be surely missed by all fans of good fast food.
Facts learned from http://www.wendyshighschoolheisman.com/hsh/about/history/bio_thom/