Former McDonald's Corp. CEO Fred L. Turner, who had been named honorary chairman of the board, died late Monday from complications from pneumonia, the company said. He was 80.
A native of Des Moines, Iowa, he was one of founder Ray Kroc's first employees in 1956, and then partnered with Kroc in building the McDonald's system. His grandfatherly persona and popularity among company employees made Turner something of a company mascot in his retirement.
"Fred was a true pioneer and shaped the quick service restaurant industry. We will remember his leadership, passion and dedication to McDonald's, our customers and our people," said Andy McKenna, McDonald's chairman.
Turner became president and chief administrative officer in 1968 and was named McDonald's president and CEO in 1974. He was elected chairman and CEO in 1977 and served in that capacity until 1987.
He remained chairman until 1990, when he was named senior chairman. He continued in that role until 2004 when he retired and became honorary chairman.
Turner is credited with significantly building the Oak Brook-based burger giant's restaurant base. The chain more that tripled its number of locations and expanded into new international markets during his tenure as CEO.
He also is considered the architect of the "quality, service, and cleanliness" (QSC) restaurant operations model that launched McDonald's global growth.
Known for working side by side with restaurant employees, Turner wrote the company's first Operations and Training Manual in 1958, which still serves as a basis for restaurant operations.
Turner founded Hamburger University, a training program for managers, franchisees and company employees, in 1961. McDonald's now has seven Hamburger Us, including one on its Oak Brook campus, which was named after Turner in 2004.
"Fred's contributions to McDonald's are immeasurable," said Don Thompson, McDonald's President and CEO. "Our more than 34,000 restaurants around the world serve as a testament to Fred's business genius and his strong commitment to our customers."
Turner also served on the boards of Aon, Baxter, First Chicago (J.P. Morgan Chase), Marshall Field's (Macy's) and W.W. Grainger. He also cofounded the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which serves families of children who are seriously ill and provides care for children in underprivileged communities.
Turner and his late wife, Patty, avid music lovers, endowed a jazz studies professorship at Drake University in his hometown of Des Moines, which also opened a Fred and Patty Turner Jazz Center in 2011. Turner was involved in the creation of World War II aircraft exhibits at O'Hare and Midway.
Turner is survived by three daughters and eight grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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