S. Truett Cathy, the billionaire founder of the privately held Chick-fil-A restaurant chain that famously closes on Sundays but also drew unwanted attention to gay marriage in recent years because of his family's conservative views, died early today, a company spokesman says. He was 93 and died at home surrounded by family members. Cathy opened his first diner in an Atlanta suburb in 1946, and by 1967 he had founded and opened his first Chick-fil-A Inc. restaurant in Atlanta. Over ensuing decades, the boneless chicken sandwich he is credited with inventing would propel Chick-fil-A expansion to more than 1,800 outlets in 39 states and the nation's capital.
Cathy attributed his hardworking nature—even as a little boy he made money by selling six bottles of Coca-Cola for a quarter—to growing up poor. "I've experienced poverty and plenty and there's a lesson to be learned when you're brought up in poverty," he said in 2007. "I had to create some good work habits and attitude." His 2007 book How Did You Do It, Truett? outlined his strategy for success, which included setting priorities, being courteous, cautiously expanding a business, and not being burdened with debt. "There's really no secret for success," he said then. "I hope it will open eyes for people. They don't have to follow my recipe, but this is what works for me." (Read more S. Truett Cathy stories.)