McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) today announced that Fred L. Turner, Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors and former Chief Executive Officer, passed away today from complications from pneumonia. He was 80 years old.
“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, Chairman of McDonald’s Board of Directors.
Turner is heralded as the architect of the “quality, service, and cleanliness” (QSC) restaurant operations model that launched McDonald’s global presence and unparalled leadership in the industry. 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.
“Fred’s contributions to McDonald’s are immeasurable,” said Don Thompson, McDonald’s President and CEO. “For more than fifty years, he was dedicated to operations excellence, training and developing a great tasting menu. He worked side by side with Ray to open clean, welcoming restaurants where families could enjoy a high quality meal and a special time together. 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. Fred was a dedicated family man, a savvy business leader, and a loyal friend. We will miss him tremendously.”
Turner became President and Chief Administrative Officer in 1968 and then 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 of the Board until 1990 when he was named Senior Chairman. He continued in that role until 2004 when he retired and became Honorary Chairman.
Under Turner’s leadership, McDonald’s grew exponentially. Turner’s most notable achievement was the significant domestic and international expansion of the company. During his tenure as CEO, McDonald’s more than tripled the number of restaurants and opened dozens of new markets worldwide.
First and foremost, Turner was a restaurant man. In the early years of McDonald’s, Turner was often seen working side by side with the crew, teaching new staff his meticulous standards. In 1958, Turner authored the first Operations and Training Manual that continues to be the blueprint for restaurant operations today.
In 1961, Turner spearheaded the creation of McDonald’s Hamburger University, a rigorous training curriculum for managers, franchisees and company employees. Today, there are seven Hamburger Universities globally, including one at the company’s home office in Oak Brook, Illinois, renamed the Fred L. Turner Training Center in 2004.
“Fred was a passionate believer in training and development. He mentored and inspired so many of us,” said Jeff Stratton, President, McDonald’s USA. “Fred constantly raised the bar higher, and challenged our franchisees, suppliers and people to work together and continuously improve the customer experience in our restaurants.”
Turner served on the board of directors for Aon, Baxter, First Chicago (now J.P. Morgan Chase), Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) and W.W. Grainger.
Turner was widely recognized by his peers and received numerous awards and recognitions, including “Best Chief Executive” in the restaurant industry by The Wall Street Transcript in 1980, and “Ad Man of the Decade” by Advertising Age in 1990. In 1991, Turner received the Horatio Alger Award which honors outstanding Americans who exemplify dedication, purpose, and perseverance. He also received an honorary Dr. of Laws from Drake University in 1983.
Turner had many diverse interests and supported countless philanthropic activities. He was a co-founder and life trustee of Ronald McDonald House Charities, dedicated to serving families of critically ill children and providing care to children in underserved communities. Turner and his late wife Patty were avid music lovers and he was a significant supporter of Drake University in Des Moines, endowing a professorship in jazz studies and the Fred and Patty Turner Jazz Center, which opened on campus in 2011.
A self-described history buff, Turner was actively involved in multiple efforts to honor American veterans and educate future generations. He led the effort to create two aircraft exhibits at O’Hare International and Chicago Midway International Airports as a lasting tribute to the sacrifices made in World War II. In 2009, Turner also sponsored the restoration of an SBD Dauntless dive-bomber for the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Turner is survived by three daughters, Paula Turner, Patty Sue (Bob) Rhea, Teri Turner and eight grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be sent to Ronald McDonald House Charities, or the Patty Turner Senior Center in Deerfield, IL.
For a complete biography of Fred Turner and multimedia assets, please visit www.aboutmcdonalds.com.