If you already love Chick-fil-A like me, this sweet tribute is sure to bump it up a notch.
I had the honor of speaking with Trudy Cathy White, the daughter of Truett Cathy, founder of one of the largest and fastest-growing fast-food restaurants chains in America, Chick-fil-A, in 1946.
Trudy Cathy White shares the ‘secret sauce’ at work behind-the-scenes in her book A Quiet Strength: The Life and Legacy of Jeannette M. Cathy.
“A lot of people know my dad, the inventor of Chick-fil-A, but very few people have had the pleasure of knowing my mom, Jeannette Cathy. She was a remarkable lady and had a significant impact on my dad’s life, on our life as a family, and certainly in the family business. I felt like it was time to share her story.”
About the Book. The memoir gives readers a look into the Cathy family by detailing the life of the unsung hero, Jeannette Cathy.
“When people pick up this book and read it, they are going to be encouraged. No matter what adversity you face in life, you can flourish because God is there to give you strength,” White said.
Jeannette focused her life on four simple words: You can with God. She demonstrated a humble but unwavering faith in her home as well as the business.
Jeannette’s Role in Building Chick-fil-A. When Jeannette married Truett, her childhood sweetheart in 1948, they work together in the first restaurant that is still open today in Atlanta, GA. Jeannette was a waitress and did the accounting and bookkeeping. As the business grew, so did the Cathy family which is when Jeannette decided to work from home raising their children.
White shares that her mother had the most critical role in all the family, dubbing her with the title of ‘Chief Supporting Officer’. Jeannette took that role seriously by providing relentless support to her husband. “It’s important for people to realize you don’t have to be in the spotlight. You don’t have to be on the stage or holding the microphone. But you have a role to play in the lives of other people around you by undergirding and offering them support,” White said.
Throughout the growth of the business, Jeannette supported her husband with regular prayer. Truett and Jeannette prayed together and as a family.
Business Principles. “We have never separated business from good biblical principles and practices which we believe have contributed to the success of the business,” White said. “My dad always felt one of the best business decisions he ever made was to give everybody a day of rest. To this day and in the future, our restaurants are closed on Sundays. This is a way to honor God and allow people to spend time with their families and to worship God.”
White shared that her family is still deeply committed to the original business purpose of Chick-fil-A established by her parents. “That purpose is to glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Surprising Facts. Jeannette was raised during the Great Depression by a single mom after her father left when she was a baby. At a time when not many women were afforded the opportunity, she was able to achieve her dream of attending college and seminary thanks to ladies from her church who put their money together to make it happen.
“She continued that learning spirit. She was a lifelong learner but was rarely in the spotlight,” White said.
Jeannette loved to problem solve. If there was an issue with the plumbing or an appliance, she would learn how to fix it. Jeannette was eighty years old when she got her first computer and ninety years old when she got an iPhone.
A Legacy of Faith: A Message to Mothers. Jeannette had a love for reading and memorizing the Bible. Her favorite verse and one White claims to define her mother is from Philippians 4:13 that states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
White recalls how her mother had a habit of being at the back door when the children would leave. Jeannette would tell them to ‘remember who you are and whose you are.’
“She didn’t want us to find our identity in who we are related to or what we had or what we do. She wanted our identity to be defined by what the Bible says we are: A child of God. Mother wanted us to know God loves us and has a purpose for our life.”
White believes that a legacy is something we live day-to-day before it is something that is left behind.
“My mother told me when she was in the hospital, ‘days are long, but life is short,’ White said. “In reality, life is short, and we must be intentional about how we live our life. As parents, we often worry if our children are listening. We must also be concerned that they are watching all the time.”
White says when she looks at the life of her mother, she realizes Jeannette was not the perfect mom or wife. But she was consistent and intentional in living out the values that were important to her personally and in business.
“Mothers sacrifice a lot and sometimes they aren’t appreciated enough. I’m grateful for a mother who took the time to be intentional and give of her time.”
Dear readers, I hope you were inspired and encouraged by this lovely tribute from a daughter to her mother.
This article was originally published on SoCal Christian Voice.
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Love this post Beckie –
Thanks, Del. It was a pleasure speaking with Trudy and writing this article.
Cfoster, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll take a look around the site.
Oh, what an amazing woman and mother, Beckie! I’m going to order White’s book as soon as possible. We absolutely love Chick-fil-A and its commitment to Christian service both in their restaurants and in the communities they are a part of.
Martha, I agree. I was so inspired by this amazing mother, daughter, and family. Our community is supposed to get a Chick-fil-A soon. Everyone is excited, to say the least.
Wonderful post, and interesting/insightful interview Ms. Beckie. I too am a huge Chick-fil-A fan, but was concerned last year when the company’s changes in charitable giving was brought to light. I gave up that delicious food for a little while, until God led me to understand how being in this world can sometimes be a messy place. It’s the Cathy family’s decisions who, what, when, and where they share God’s blessings. It’s their stewardship that matters to God; not what I might think they should do. Will be ordering this book as it sounds like we had similar mamas. 🙂
JD, It was a wonderful interview. My focus was on Trudy’s tribute to her mother, so I did not get into the charitable contribution issue for this article. I do, however, agree with you. It is their decision. And like you, I look forward to reading this book because Mrs. Cathy reminds me of my sweet mamma.
Blessings to you!
Love Chick-fil-A, love this post, love your blog! What a great interview and information to learn about the woman behind this great restaurant. I really liked this thought: “White believes that a legacy is something we live day-to-day before it is something that is left behind.” That’s good!
Karen, your sweet comment made my day! You know I love what the Lord leads you to write on your blog (and elsewhere) as well. So many things resonated with me during (and after) the interview with this lovely woman of God. I, too, loved the part about legacy. So true!