Dave Thomas

Inducted: 2012

Dave is best known as chairman and founder of Wendy's International, Inc. As a young boy, he dreamed of owning his own hamburger restaurant, and he realized that dream in 1969 when he opened the first Wendy's restaurant in downtown Columbus. Thanks to his passion, business savvy and creativity, Wendy's quickly grew worldwide, topping more than 6,600 restaurants.

Dave was known as an innovator in the restaurant industry, and is credited with developing the modern-day Pick-Up Window (at the second Wendy's on Henderson Road).

In 1989, the Company asked Dave to appear in Wendy's commercials, and the soft-spoken founder became an American icon, making more than 800 commercials.

Beyond his business career, Dave was beloved for his exceptional generosity to children's charities, including St. Jude's Research Hospital, Columbus' Nationwide Children's Hospital, and the Children's Home Society of Florida.

In 1992, he created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which is dedicated to finding loving, adoptive homes for North America's foster children.

Dave won dozens of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His proudest accomplishment, though, was his family -- wife, Lorraine, five children and 17 grandchildren.