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Alois Terry Leiter (Al Leiter)
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Bartolo Buddy Valastro Jr.
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen
Ernest Edward Kovacs
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founder of wendy's food chain; national spokesperson
On July 2nd, 1932, I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. My birth mother, whom I never met, gave me up for adoption. When I was only six weeks old, Rex and Auleva Thomas, a couple that lived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, adopted me. My adopted mother died from rheumatic fever when I was only five years old. By the time I was ten, I had also lost two stepmothers and had moved to many states so my adopted father could find work. My favorite memories from my childhood were of summers spent with my adopted grandmother, Minnie Sinclair. I miss those days.
I got my first job when I was 12 years old; I worked at a Knoxville restaurant as a counterman. I loved working at restaurants. But it was because of that love I made the worst mistake in my life: I dropped out of high school and went to work full-time. That choice bothered me for nearly 45 years! Through working at the Hobby House restaurant in Fort Wayne, I met the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Sanders. Because of him, I got a chance to improve four failing KFC�s in Columbus, Ohio. But four years later, I decided to sell the restaurants back to KFC...I ended up receiving a fraction of the sale. Through that alone, I became a millionaire at 35 years old! Also, because I went from "rags to riches", (or so to speak) I was awarded the Horatio Alger Award. That was amazing.
When I was little, I always dreamed of opening up my own hamburger restaurant. On November 15, 1969, I made my dream a reality- I opened up the world's first Wendy's Old' Fashioned Hamburgers. I named it after one of my little girls, Melinda Lou, who our family would call Wendy. I was able to create a method of making fresh hamburgers at a time when other fast food chains were making burgers, then sticking them under heat lamps for a few hours until they're sold. Wendy's became famous for its (my) fresh, ground beef and square patties. My square patties were (and still are) a promise to not cut corners. Another thing I did was create the pick-up window so customers could drive here, order their food, and pick it up without leaving their car. Because of Wendy's, I received just about every industry award you could think of, and I was honored as a "pioneer in the restaurant business".
In 1982, I gave up the everyday "command" of Wendy's. But only four years later-after some problems- the new president of Wendy's encouraged me to "take a more active role" in my business. So, in 1989, I became Wendy's television spokesman. I believe everybody knew me as "the guy on Wendy's TV commercials". I appeared in over 800 commercials, and spent nearly 13 years doing it. Also, in 1991, I wrote my first of three books, Dave's Way. I enjoyed the fame, money and good life. But I wanted to give back to my community. So, I founded the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Out of everything I had done, the one thing I couldn't let go of was dropping out of high school. So, I hired myself a tutor and passed the GED high school exam in 1993. But my luck ran out a bit. In 1996, I had a quadruple bypass surgery. Although I was feeling better, I wasn't out of the woods yet. In 2001, I began having kidney dialysis. I never knew why, though.
Each and every day, I lived by certain morals, which I called the Five Values. Not only did they show in my life, but they also show in the workers of the Wendy's franchise. The 5 values are:
Quality is our Recipe.
- I believed quality was one of the most important things, not only in a restaurant, but also in a person. It meant so much to me. I'd always encourage the workers at Wendy's to have a MBA (Mop Bucket Attitude)
Do the Right Thing.
- I also highly believed in doing the right thing. I often admitted my mistakes...my biggest one being when I dropped out of high school. So, I decided to go back to school and pass the GED test.
Treat people with respect.
- Whenever I spoke to people, whether it was a celebrity or a customer, I treated them with respect. I listened to every word that came out of their mouth, and (if necessary) gave them honest suggestions.
Profit is not a dirty word.
- It's good to make a profit and take pride in your business. But it's great to share your success with your community. One of my favorite quotes was, "There's no 'I' in 'Wendy's'. The first two letters are 'WE'." It's always been true.
- Giving back doesn't necessarily mean giving money to charities. You can give back your time or use your special talents for a good cause.
Out of everything in my life, I don't know what to be more proud of- opening up my dream restaurant, having a beautiful wife and five beautiful children, or making so many people happy. I guess I should be proud of all of my accomplishments.
BY: KS, English per. 5
NOTES: *Dave Thomas died on January 8th, 2002 of liver cancer. **Wife's name is Lorraine Buskirk; kids are Pam, Ken, Molly, Melinda Lou "Wendy", and Lori.
"Dave Thomas". JPG.
NNBD: Tracking the Entire World.
Dave Thomas. 2011. Web. 1/3/11
"Dave Thomas". PDF.
Wendy's- Quality Is Our Recipe.
2011. Web. 12/16/10
"Dave Thomas Biography".
Bio- True Stories.
2011. Web. 12/13/10
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