Truett Cathy died this morning. He was Georgia’s – and perhaps the world’s – most unassuming billionaire. He accumulated a large amount of wealth in his lifetime, but that’s not why my Facebook page, Twitter feed, and mainstream news accounts are filled with the news of his homegoing. Mr. Cathy didn’t just invest in chicken restaurants. He invested in people.
He knew how to invest well, and his investments have paid great dividends. I never worked for Chick Fil A, but many of my friends have, and do. They are good people, and they like Mr. Cathy invest in other people. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
The picture of the card is one that he gave me when he came to my church youth group when I was an early teenager. He told me to keep it and call him if I ever needed him. I never did, but as you can see from the dog-eared edge, I’ve carried it for quite a long time. And I’ve always known I could use it at any time. He was special. The card in some strange way has always been comforting to have. Even today. Especially today.
A while back I wrote about some of my family’s experiences with the Cathy family here. I stand by all those words and wish I had so many more to provide an adequate tribute to the man. If there is anyone I’ve met who can have been said “he didn’t just talk the talk, but he walked the walk”, that would be Mr. Cathy.
A lot of news articles were calling him a self made man today. He would be the first to quibble with that. He worked hard, managed his business well, elevated his people to perform to excellence, and subjected himself to a much higher power for ultimate guidance. He also remained married for 65 years. That in today’s world is almost as remarkable as becoming a billionaire.
He died a rich man after giving so much back, and leaving a true empire behind. It is in good hands. We’ll continue to drive by Chick Fil A on Sundays wishing we could get a chicken biscuit for breakfast or a strawberry shake in the afternoon. Either are about as close to heaven as you can get in a modern restaurant, and both are likely gifts directly from God to Truett Cathy, himself a gift from God.
He’s been called home now. A rich man has left us. While I’m not in the habit of pronouncing who does and who doesn’t get into heaven, I have no doubts or reservations about him.
He left us a rich man. But we are all much richer for him being here. And that, I believe, is how you get a camel through the eye of a needle.