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Chick-fil-A Founder Truett Cathy in Atlanta on Feb 22, 2005.
Robin Nelson—Zuma Press

Monday morning, at around 1:20 am, our world lost a Great Man to eternity.

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others.

Most people, of course, have heard of Chick-fil-A, but few got to see the Cathy family up close, and marvel at this family dynasty of Christian faith. Truett and Jeanette’s legacy will live on through the great godly character and values they instilled in their children Trudy, Bubba (Don) and Dan. It’s been my privilege and honor to be a family friend of these dear people, their wonderful spouses, kids, and grandkids.

Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids , and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School class for 50 years. One of the five books he wrote summed up his attitude toward helping young boys in trouble: “It’s Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men.”

Much like the amazing Green family of Hobby Lobby, the Cathy family built their family business with integrity, succeeded with humility, and shared their material blessings with great generosity. Both families have held to their Christian conviction of not working on Sundays by closing their stories on Sundays so employees could attend worship services. In a culture where profit determines most business decisions, this is a stellar example integrity and living by conviction even as personal cost.

I’d encourage you to do some research on all the ways the Chick-fil-A foundation invests in children and young people at every stage of life: To mention just a few:

Their SHELTERING ARMS program provides childhood education for working families with high quality, affordable child care.

Their POWER CAMPS providing weeklong day camps of sports, encouragement, and skill training to kids from poor communities.

Their HOMEWORK HOTLINE is a partnership that offers free homework help to struggling students across Atlanta.

I could go on and on and on telling you about all the great ministry projects Truett and his family have pioneered including their Emerging Leadership Experiences, Play it Smart, their Junior Achievement Discovery Center, Mentoring programs, and the millions of scholarship dollars they donate each year to help employees get college degrees.

Truett, my friend, we miss you already. Heaven’s gain is our loss. But now that you’re in heaven with my dad and mom, my brother, and my son – please give them a hug for me. See you soon.

Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life. This post originally appeared as a remembrance on his Facebook page.

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