Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas

Original Name Rex David
Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, USA
Death 8 Jan 2002 (aged 69)
Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida, USA
Burial Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, USA
Plot MAUSOLEUM CHAPEL B Lot :1_B Space :1
Memorial ID 6076364 · View Source
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American restaurateur and philanthropist, best known as founder of the hamburger chain, Wendy’s International Inc. Wearing a Wendy's apron, Thomas was one of the nation's most recognized television spokesmen. He has appeared in almost every TV advertisement for the No. 3 burger chain in the United States from 1989 until his death. Although Dave became widely popular, he was never very comfortable as a “celebrity." In his books and in interviews, Thomas talked of being approached by those who recognized him from television and said he must be someone famous. Dave said he replied, "I'm nobody, really. I just make hamburgers for a living." He was born Rex David on July 2, 1932, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He was adopted and renamed by a Michigan family when he was six weeks old. When he was 12 years old, Thomas started working at a barbecue restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn., according to the company's Web site. He eventually moved into a management position with Kentucky Fried Chicken, where he met one of the greatest influences in his life -- Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC founder. In 1969, he opened his first Wendy's restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, naming it after his daughter. Today, Ohio-based Wendy's operates about 6,000 restaurants in the United States and Canada with systemwide annual sales of more than $7 billion, and a market value of over $4 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. The founder and senior chairman of Wendy's International became a household name when he began pitching his burgers and fries in TV commercials in 1989. The smiling Thomas touted the virtues of fast-food in humorous ads, sometimes featuring stars such as bluesman B.B. King and soap opera queen Susan Lucci. As a successful businessman, Thomas founded numerous charities, including the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a cause he was particularly passionate about, having been adopted himself. “When I found out I was (adopted), I didn't want to talk about it, and as I talked to people as I grew older ... I got really a lot of encouragement," Thomas said in a 1999 interview on CNN. "They said, 'why don't you talk about it?' And I thought, well, I'll do it if, you know, I could just help one boy or one girl get a home." Dave Thomas died on Tuesday, January 8, 2002 after fighting liver cancer for many years. He was survived by his wife of 47 years, Lorraine, five children and 16 grandchildren. His foundation helps raise awareness for the 134,000 foster children available for adoption, and helps make adoption more affordable.

Bio by: Edward Parsons

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 8 Jan 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6076364
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dave Thomas (2 Jul 1932–8 Jan 2002), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6076364, citing Union Cemetery, Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .