Chick-fil-A Founder S. Truett Cathy Dead at 93

PHOTO: S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, watches teams warming up before the first half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl NCAA college football game between Clemson and LSU in Atlanta, Dec. 31, 2012.John Bazemore/AP Photo
S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, watches teams warming up before the first half of the Chick-fil-A Bowl NCAA college football game between Clemson and LSU in Atlanta, Dec. 31, 2012.

S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, died Monday at the age of 93, the restaurant announced.

Cathy died at 1:35 a.m., surrounded by his family, the company said. He had been in failing health in recent weeks.

The fast-food magnate was born in 1921 in Eatonton, Georgia, and spent his childhood in Atlanta.

“Cathy relied on a keen business sense, a strong work ethic and a deep Christian faith to build a tiny diner in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville, Georgia,” the company wrote in a statement to employees.

Eventually, Chick-fil-A, best known for its boneless chicken sandwiches, was born. The restaurant chain now features more than 1,800 restaurants across 40 states and Washington, D.C.

PHOTO: Then-President George W. Bush presents the Lifetime Presidents Volunteer Service Award to Chick fil-A Inc. founder S. Truett Cathy, April 15, 2008.Gerald Herbert/AP Photo
Then-President George W. Bush presents the Lifetime President's Volunteer Service Award to Chick fil-A Inc. founder S. Truett Cathy, April 15, 2008.

Cathy stepped down as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer last year, with his son Dan Cathy taking his place. Cathy remained with the company as chairman emeritus.

Cathy was a devout Southern Baptist, and his religious principles helped guide his development of the restaurant chain. Chick-fil-A plans to stay closed on Sundays and remain privately held, the company announced in its statement about Cathy’s death.

Cathy is survived by his wife of 65 years, Jeannette McNeil Cathy, two sons and a daughter, as well as 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.