“It’s nice to be with you today. It’s nice to be anywhere when you are 90 years old.” That is how S. Truett Cathy began his acceptance speech when he was inducted into the Indiana Wesleyan University Society of World Changers three years ago.
He had a knack for making people laugh, but he also had a way of making us think about things in ways we hadn’t before. Cathy’s recent passing at the age of 93 gives us reason to remember his life and to learn from how he lived.
The founder and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, Cathy started the business in 1946 when he and his brother opened a small diner in Atlanta, Georgia. The restaurant prospered and in 1967 Cathy opened the first Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Life was simple for Cathy saying, “If you make good choices, you will get good results. Bad choices, bad results.”
Cathy built his life and business on hard work, humility, and biblical principles. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, where he taught the same Sunday school class for more than 50 years.
All Chick-fil-A restaurants operate with a “Closed-on-Sunday” policy, without exception. Cathy believed that giving employees Sunday off as a day for family, worship, fellowship, or rest communicated how Chick-fil-A views spiritual life and how it feels about its people.
In his address to IWU students, Cathy urged everyone to think about their impact on others. “You must realize the impact we have on other people,” said Cathy. “Even though you are being prepared to change the world, make sure you take care of your next-door neighbor as well.”
Cathy always felt called to serve people. His WinShape Foundation, founded in 1984, grew from his desire to “shape winners” by helping young people succeed in life through scholarships and other youth-support programs.
Cathy was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather. He was constantly striving to be the best he could be in every area of his life.
At the end of his speech, Cathy left us with a question—simple, yet profound.
“So the question is, to Truett Cathy as well as to each of you, why not be our best at all times. Why not? Why not? Why not?” – S. Truett Cathy