R. David Thomas
Born: Abt. 1932 in Atlantic City, NJ
Died: 8 Jan 2001, Fort Lauderdale, Broward Co., FL
AKA: Called, Dave
ADOPTION: R. David Thomas was adopted by Rex and Auleva Thomas of Kalamazoo, MI.
COMMENT: This is R. David Thomas, otherwise known as, Dave Thomas. He was the founder of the hamburger chain, "Wendy's," which was named after his daughter, Wendy. The television commercials for Wendy's were famous because Dave Thomas himself appeared in many of them. Some of them were quite humorous and often poked fun at Dave.
RELATIONSHIP: The grandchildren of R. David Thomas were: Kristin Marie Thomas, Michael David Thomas, Sean David Thomas, Ashley von Floto, Andrew von Floto and Allyson Farber.
QUESTION: Who were the parents of the Floto and Farmer grandchildren?
R. David Thomas (Dave) never knew his birth parents. He was adopted by Rex and Auleva Thomas from Kalamazoo, Michigan when he was six weeks old. Auleva died when he was five and he spent most of his childhood moving from state to state as Rex sought work. Summers he spent with his adoptive grandmother and it was from her that he learned many of the lessons that were to serve him well in life.
When Dave was a cook at a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he married a waitress, Ina Louise Buskirk, whose Buskirk and Baker roots could be traced to Belmont Co., Ohio.
Dave worked for Harland Sanders and managed some of his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Columbus, Ohio which we doing poorly. He was very successful in this endeavor and sold his interest for over a million dollars at age 37. He always dreamed of owning his own restaurant and he opened the first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant on November 15, 1969 in downtown Columbus, Franklin county, Ohio. He named the resturant after his eight-year-old daughter, Melinda Lou, who had been nicknamed, "Wendy" by her older brother and sisters.
Dave Thomas was an adoption advocate. He founded The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in 1992 to promote and facilitate adoption. Wendy's had a close relationship with the foundation. In 1996, Mr. Thomas was credited by President Bill Clinton with helping to win passage of the legislation that gives adoptive parents a one-time tax credit of $5,000. He also was credited with promoting the 1997 legislation that sought to speed the adoption process.
In 1991-1992 he published the best-selling, "Dave's Way: A New Approach to Old-Fashioned Success."
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas had five children and 16 grandchildren.
Additional information and pictures regarding Dave Thomas and the history of Wendy's is available on the Wendy's website: http://www.wendys.com.
(Furnished by Valerie Kramer, with additions by Richard E. Henthorn)