Guest post by Robin Campbell
Senior Director, Corporate Relations
His visible simplicity underscored what made him complex.
I worked for Mr. Thomas for the better part of 15 years at Wendy’s and witnessed countless moments of simple kindness: He always said good morning. He knew most of the 600+ employees by name. He loved to poke fun at his fellow executives. He cherished his family. He fiercely advocated for children.
Today, 10 years after his passing and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Foundation bearing his name, as an employee of the Foundation I have the privilege of practicing what he lived. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a small but mighty national nonprofit operating on the one sentence vision Dave bequeathed us: every child deserves a permanent home and loving family.
Once at a luncheon, I watched as the local politicians and celebrities competed for his attention. He was polite, but unfocused. His awareness was focused on a young man busing tables nearby. The youth – maybe 16 years old – was methodical in his job and unaware of the scrutiny. The table guests continued to talk, but Mr. Thomas excused himself and approached the young man. Putting his hand on his shoulder, I saw him speak to the boy, ask a couple of questions, pat him on the back and hand him a $100 bill.
Mr. Thomas championed the underdog. He saw himself in every young person in the restaurant business trying to do good job. A simple man? Yes. But profoundly influential in his example to just be nice.
A lesson I try to practice every day.
Robin Campbell is the senior director of corporate relations for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. For 16 years she worked alongside legendary Wendy’s executives like Dave Thomas, Gordon Teter and Jim Near. A team member of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption since 2002, she works with the extensive Wendy’s system to help grow Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program of the Foundation. Learn more about Dave Thomas here.