Former McDonald's CEO Fred Turner dies

Jan. 8, 2013

McDonald's Corporation announced that Fred L. Turner, honorary chairman of the board of directors and former CEO, passed away Monday 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 considered the architect of the "quality, service, and cleanliness" (QSC) restaurant operations model that launched McDonald's global presence. 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 50 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. 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.

According to the company, Turner's most notable achievement was the significant domestic and international expansion. During his tenure as CEO, McDonald's more than tripled the number of restaurants and opened dozens of new markets worldwide.

Additionally, 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 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, Ill., renamed the Fred L. Turner Training Center in 2004.

Turner received numerous awards, 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. He also received an honorary Dr. of Laws from Drake University in 1983.

He was a co-founder and life trustee of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Turner and his late wife Patty also endowed a professorship in jazz studies at Drake University, as well as the Fred and Patty Turner Jazz Center, which opened on campus in 2011.

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. He is survived by three daughters, Paula Turner, Patty Sue (Bob) Rhea, Teri Turner and eight grandchildren.

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