Controversial Chick-fil-A founder dies aged 93

Controversial Chick-fil-A founder dies aged 93
In this April 15, 2008 file photo, US President George W. Bush (L) presents the Lifetime President's Volunteer Service Award to Chick-Fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON - Truett Cathy, the controversial conservative Christian founder of popular US fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, died Monday, aged 93.

Cathy, whose shops are the only major fast-food outlets in the US to close on Sunday, in respect of his religious beliefs, had been at the centre of a public storm over his vocal opposition to gay marriage.

Cathy died peacefully in his home, his family at his side, said a statement published on the company's website. He retired in 2013, though he remained honorary president.

A devout Baptist, Cathy had decided his restaurants would be closed on Sundays for the sabbath, a decision that will remain in force.

In 2012, the chain faced a boycott when rights groups protested Cathy's donations to movements fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The rights groups also denounced anti-gay-marriage statements by Cathy's son, Dan, who was the general director and later the president of the company.

At the end of 2012, the company announced it would stop donating to anti-gay organisations.

Cathy, born to a poor family, started with a small restaurant in a suburb of Atlanta, in the US south, in 1946. The chain grew consistently over the decades, numbering 1,800 shops by 2013, with sales of US$5 billion (S$6.28 billion) that year.

As a means to give back to the community, Cathy created several foundations to give scholarships to students, to help employees, and to help orphaned children.

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