S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A who called the southside home, died early Monday morning at the age of 93.
Cathy grew the restaurant from one store in Hapeville to a chicken empire that had $5 billion in sales in 2013,according to the restaurant’s website. Truett’s son, Dan, who now serves as chief executive officer and chairman of the company, lives in Fayette County and was the driving force in getting the county’s first movie studio, Pinewood-Atlanta, built here.
Chick-fil-A announced there will be two public viewings at First Baptist Church Jonesboro, at which the public may pay respects to Cathy. The first is scheduled from 4–7 p.m. Sept. 9, following a private family viewing. Another public viewing is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 10, immediately preceding the funeral service. A public funeral service will be held at First Baptist Church Jonesboro Sept. 10, at 2 p.m.
The public is asked to park at nearby Tara Stadium, 1055 Battle Creek Rd. in Jonesboro and take the shuttle to the funeral. Shuttles will run continuously from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. from Tara Stadium to First Baptist Church Jonesboro and from First Baptist Church Jonesboro to Tara Stadium immediately following the public funeral service until 4:30 p.m. A private family burial for Truett Cathy is Sept. 11.
On Monday afternoon, executive vice president Tim Tassopoulous issued the following statement at the Chick-fil-A at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta: “As you can imagine, we are truly saddened by the loss of our beloved founder, Truett Cathy, at age 93. I first met Truett 36 years ago as a 19-year-old college student when I was working as an hourly team member at a Chick-fil-A restaurant here in Atlanta.
“Truett and his brother, Ben, opened their first restaurant in Hapeville, Ga., in 1946. They called it the Dwarf House, and it’s still there today. “When Truett created the Original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, he never knew it would feed millions of people a year, nor be credited as America’s ‘Tastiest Chicken Sandwich’ by Consumer Reports.
“Over the years, Truett expanded Chick-fil-A to more than 1,800 restaurants – in fact, the one we’re standing in opened just a couple of weeks ago. He often talked about how he never planned for Chick-fil-A to be the size that it is today.
“For Truett, it was so much more than building a national chain. Truett’s Chick-fil-A was a place to give others good food, a warm smile and a break in their day. It also was a place where Truett could invest in people, giving them a first job, a place to learn about hard work and a place for many to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. “From this success, he dedicated a lot of time to giving others opportunities they otherwise would never have had.
For example: “Under Truett’s direction, Chick-fil-A was one of the first chains to offer team member scholarships and, to date, has awarded more than $32 million in scholarships. I am one of the more than 31,000 team members who has received a scholarship to help with college expenses. “In 1984, Truett and his wife, Jeannette, started WinShape to help young people succeed in life through camping and other experiences.
“A special part of this foundation is WinShape Homes, which has provided long-term care to over 400 foster children. Ten have just entered college this year for the first time – Truett would be so proud and happy to hear this news. “For 50 consecutive years, Truett taught Sunday School to 13-year-old boys. He chose this age because he thought this was a defining period in their life. “There are so many more of these stories. Personally, I have so many cherished memories with Truett from all the years I have been at Chick-fil-A. One of the things I remember most about Truett was that he was always interested in others.
He always had a genuine interest in my family (my children, wife and my parents). “One time, when my boys were younger, Truett asked how they were doing. I shared with Truett that they had set out on an entrepreneurial venture and had set up a stand to sell hot chocolate and apple cider. Two days later, I got a call from Truett’s assistant. He had two bags of peanuts in his office to give the boys. He had suggestions for them with ideas on how to roast, package and sell them!
He thought it would make a nice complement to their hot chocolate and apple cider stand. This story is one of many that illustrates Truett’s lifetime concern and care for others, especially young people.
“Early on in his life, Truett decided that his life-long goal was to ‘choose a good name over great riches,’ and that he certainly did. We remain forever indebted to him and his hard-work ethic, his keen business sense, his generosity and his sense of obligation to his community. He truly will be missed. “During this time, we ask that you keep his wife, Jeannette, and the entire Cathy family in your thoughts and prayers.”