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S. Truett Cathy Legacy: Christian Founder of Chick-fil-A Dies at 93

( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2014 11:35 AM EDT
S. Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick-fil-A franchise, has died at 93 surrounded by friends and family.
The founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy died at 93 on September 8, 2014. (AP)

The Christian founder of Chick-fil-A, S. Truett Cathy, died at 93 early Monday morning surrounded by family, reports a spokesperson for the company.

In a statement released soon after Cathy's death, the company announced that a public funeral will be held for the Chick-fil-A founder on Wednesday at First Baptist Jonesboro in Jonesboro, Georgia.

"In addition to presiding over one of the most successful restaurant chains in America, Cathy was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather," stated the company.

"He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeannette McNeil Cathy; sons Dan T. and Don 'Bubba' Cathy; daughter Trudy Cathy White; 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren."

Cathy was a self-made billionaire, rising from poverty by building a privately held restaurant chain that expanded to over 1,800 locations. A devout Southern Baptist, Cathy's business is closed every Sunday and regularly plays Christian music in the restaurant. According to CNN, Cathy and his family have supported many conservative religious and political causes.

Dan Cathy, who is currently chairman and president of Chick-fil-A, had told the Baptist Press in 2012 that the company was "guilty as charged" for backing "the biblical definition of a family." At the time, gay rights groups and others called for boycotts and kiss-ins at Cathy's restaurants. However, business continued to boom, as "the family-owned company has said it has had 46 consecutive years of positive sales growth," reports The Associated Press.

"Cathy's $6 billion fortune as the founder of Chick-fil-A puts him on the yearly Forbes magazine list of the wealthiest Americans in the country."

Cathy used a significant portion of the company's revenue for positive causes, including setting up several foster care homes across the South via the WinShape Homes program and giving over $25 million in $1,000 scholarships to Chick-fil-A restaurant employees since 1973 via the Leadership Scholarship Program.

"I'd like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed," said Cathy, according to a company statement.

"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."