I read Dave's autobiography "Well Done" many years ago.
I don't remember that part about his adoptive mother dying.
The book is IMHO a must read.
Dave Thomas lived and breathed the American Dream.
He was educated at the foot of the master franchiser, Col. Sanders.
He took the Colonel's advice, and even improved on it.
One anecdote that stuck with me was when Dave was inspecting some Wendy's restaurant, and some smart-ass wasn't cooking the burgers right.
He said to Dave, OK, Mr. big shot, how DO you do it? Show me!
Thomas designed his burgers to be square, so that they would fit on the grill.
Thomas showed the wise guy how he wanted it done, and it was correct.
I'll bet that the smart alec did it "right" after that.
The man lived up to his word, and showed it.
Dave Thomas loved the food business and it showed in everything he did. His treatment of employees, customers and suppliers was a testament to his character as a self taught man.
In his “retirement” Dave loved visiting franchises to assure quality and pump up the company spirit.
Dave Thomas was a people person.
I watched two biographies about Dave. The first had enough discrepancies, and a couple of outright lies, that led Dave to do the second and write his book.
One lie that he hated was that his father abandoned him in Indiana. Dave himself made the decision to stay to have a stable life.
Sanders and Thomas were something of kindred spirits. Both had what today would be described as tumultuous childhoods with dysfunctional families.
Sanders father died when he was five and when his mother got a job at a tomato cannery he was tasked with taking care of his younger siblings.
When his mother remarried his relationship with his stepfather was terrible and he moved to a neighboring farm and worked as a farmhand for his keep.
Sanders quit school in seventh grade. He enlisted in the army in 1906 and served one year in Cuba.
Sanders moved around quite a bit, partly because his temper and propensity for brawling got him fired several times, until he settled in Corbin, KY where KFC would get it’s start.
Thomas enlisted in 1950 so he could have some choice in his service and was discharged in 1953 after serving in Europe.
Two high school dropouts who became self made millionaires back when a millionaire was something special.
The American Dream in both cases.