Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Christian artist Michael W. Smith and American Idol alum turned Broadway star Diana DeGarmo all will be on hand tonight for Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy’s 90th birthday bash.
Developer Tom Cousins and former Mayor Andrew Young are chairing the event.
The host committee includes Mayor Kasim Reed, Home Depot CEO Frank Blake and Home Depot founders, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Georgia Aquarium founder Bernie Marcus, business mogul Herman Russell, former Kennesaw State University president Betty Siegel and numerous other prominent persons.
The Cathy family has struggled to keep details secret from their patriarch, said his son, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy. “He kind of pulls my chain on this a little bit,” Cathy told us during an interview this morning.
“He kept insisting on knowing who was invited. We finally had to succumb to his authority.” The evening, which will feature the Atlanta Symphony Gospel Choir, will be “a time of celebration, a time of inspiration a time of thanksgiving for God’s incredible blessings,” said Cathy, noting it’s hard to believe his dad is 90. ”He doesn’t act like a 90-year-old. He acts like a kid. He likes to have fun. He likes to joke and kid with people. I’m sure he’s going to have a wise crack or two.”
In the photo at the right, the two of them are shown getting ready for a “Cow Appreciation Day” event.
On a serious note, though, Cathy said his famous father has led his successful empire with a servant’s heart.
“He’s just lived a life of integrity, a life of consistency,” he said. “It’s nothing he achieved by going to an MBA school. This is a guy who started out flipping hamburgers as a 25-year-old.”
Given Chick-fil-A’s seemingly limitless success, we asked if the corporation had been taken aback when protesters complained after a store in Pennsylvania supplied food to an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat gay marriage initiatives.
“Just because we served some sandwiches at a church doesn’t mean we’re against a particular group,” Cathy said. “There’s a lot hurting people out there. We have the whole spectrum of society sitting in our dining room. We have to train our people to have a keen sensitivity to each person who’s there. We feel like God’s called us to serve these people. Life has so much friction that’s out there. We hope we can be an oasis.”
A musician as well as a businessman, Dan Cathy will perform “Amazing Grace” on the trumpet tonight. “It’s a song that’s meant so much to our family,” he said. “We hope the evening will conclude on a very reverent moment of worship. God needs to be the focus of everything we do.”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org