Dave Thomas is best known for founding the Wendy’s hamburger restaurant chain. He became the company’s TV spokesman in 1989.
After complaining that he couldn’t find a good hamburger in Columbus, Ohio, Dave Thomas opened his own restaurant on November 15, 1969: Wendy’s, named after Thomas’s 8-year-old daughter. Wendy’s quickly caught on, and within less than a decade, had grown into a 1,000-store franchise. In 1989, Thomas took on the role of television spokesman for the company with a series of hugely successful commercials. He died in Florida in 2002.
Thomas also worked throughout his life to promote the adoption of foster children. He founded the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which promoted the creation of an employee benefits program for people who adopt, as well as a number of other groundbreaking initiatives. President George Bush named him a national spokesman on adoption issues. Thomas, who always regretted not finishing high school, hired a tutor and passed the G.E.D. high-school equivalency exam in 1993.