CHICAGO (Reuters) - Wendy's International Inc. founder Dave Thomas, the smiling, down-to-earth everyman who personified the No. 3 U.S. hamburger chain through more than 10 years of self-effacing television commercials, has died at age 69, the company said Tuesday.
Thomas died early Tuesday of liver cancer at his Florida home, the Dublin, Ohio-based company said. He had suffered from cancer for more than a decade, underwent heart bypass surgery in 1996 and had been on kidney dialysis treatment since last year.
Thomas retired as chairman of Wendy's in 1982. Though he no longer actively managed the company, he had appeared in commercials for Wendy's since 1989, when he became the official company spokesman. That began the string of well-known advertisements that featured him in humorous situations promoting the virtues of Wendy's hamburgers, french fries and other simple fare.
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