A brief history of Jeannette Cathy's marriage to S. Truett Cathy

“Our mother has always been the spiritual nucleus and encourager of our family,” said eldest son Dan Cathy. The Cathys had three children, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

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“Our mother has always been the spiritual nucleus and encourager of our family,” said eldest son Dan Cathy. The Cathys had three children, 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

Daniel Funke contributed to this story

Jeannette and S. Truett Cathy really were childhood sweethearts.

The future first family of Chick-fil-A, Jeannette (born Jeannette McNeil in 1922) lived up the street from Truett in Atlanta, and met him while attending West End Baptist Church in Atlanta, when he was 8 years old.

The two married in 1948 and remained together for 65 years, until Truett's death in September at 93. Jeannette died Wednesday at 92.

"I immediately had a crush on her that I have never gotten over," Truett wrote of their first meeting, in "Eat Mor Chikin Inspire More People."

Though they met as children, Truett said he didn't begin courting Jeannette until after he launched The Dwarf Grill with his brother, Ben.

"They fell in love to the backdrop of songs they selected from a jukebox, sharing Coca-Colas," according to Chick-fil-A's website.

Jeannette and Truett married on Sept. 19, 1948 and she "immediately began working by Truett’s side at the restaurant until their first child was born. When the children [Dan, Don and Trudy] were old enough, they too, became employees," according to a Truett biography by Dr. Richard E. Hattwick, citing two earlier memoirs.
Jeannette "played a key role" in the family's business, according to Chick-fil-A, helping Truett in 1967 launch the Chick-fil-A brand on the shoulders of his Dwarft House restaurant.
"Our mother has always been the spiritual nucleus and encourager of our family,” said eldest son Dan T. Cathy, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, Inc. “I can’t remember a day when she was not in full support of Dad in his work and vision for the Chick-fil-A business.”
She and Truett also founded the philanthropic organizations WinShape Foundation and WinShape Homes together.
One of the values that drew Jeannette and Truett together? Her Christian faith, according to Hattwick: "In at least one way, hers was stronger than his," as Jeannette had been tithing since elementary school.

Read and sign the AJC online guestbook for Jeannette Cathy