Living Well 60+ January-February 2014 - Page 24

24 JAN/FEB 2014 Late Life Success Col. Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken by Angela S. Hoover, Staff Writer Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken out of sheer desperation at the age of 65. This venture was not his first try as a business owner, but it was by far his most successful. As a gas station operator in Corbin, Ky., Sanders at age 40 began cooking for hungry travelers. They ate from his own table in the station’s living quarters. People began coming for the food instead of the fuel, so Sanders moved across the street and opened a restaurant, the Sanders Café. By July 1940, after 10 years of experimenting, he had perfected his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices and the pressure-cooking technique and started selling fried chicken. When a new interstate highway diverted traffic away from his Corbin restaurant, Sanders devoted himself to fully developing his franchising business. His startup capital was money from his first Social Security check. He used it to go on the road looking for restaurant owners who would buy his fried chicken recipe. In less than 10 years, he had more than 600 franchises. His first franchise agreement was with Pete Harman of South Salt Lake, Utah in 1952. Harman’s restaurant sales tripled the first year, with 75 percent of the increase coming from fried chicken sales. The Kentucky Fried Chicken name came from Don Anderson, a sign painter Harman hired. Sanders sold his interest in the business in 1964 for $2 million to a group of investors led by John Y. Brown, Jr., who later became the governor of Kentucky, and Jack C. Massey. Today the chain, now known as KFC, has more than 15,000 restaurants in 109 countries. Sanders was born in 1890 three miles east of Henryville, Ind. He was the oldest of Wilbur David and Margaret Ann Dunlevy Sanders’ three children. Wilbur died of a fever in the summer of 1895. Margaret went to work in a tomato canning factory, leaving Harland in charge of cooking and taking care of his younger siblings. He began working as a farmhand at age 10. In 1902, Margaret remarried and the family moved to Greenwood, Ind. Sanders argued with his step- father and moved out in 1903. He dropped out of school and went to live and work on a nearby farm. Sanders falsified his birth date to enlist in the U.S. Army in November 1906 and was honorably discharged after three months. He worked various railroads jobs and became a fireman at age 16. In 1909 he married Josephine King and started a family – a son, Harland Jr. (who died in 1932 from infected tonsils), and two daughters, Margaret and Mildred. He divorced Josephine in 1947 and married Claudia Price in 1949. Sanders studied law by correspondence through the La Salle Extension University. He began practicing law in Little Rock, Arkansas, but his legal career ended after he got into a courtroom brawl with his own client. He also sold life insurance for Prudential until he was fired for insubordination. In 1920, Sanders began a successful ferry boat company on the Ohio River between Jeffersonville and Louisville. He sold his company shares for $22,000 Since 1934 Yellow/Wildcat Cab has been growing with the community As always we are looking forward to serving you By 1930, Sanders was working at the Corbin gas station where he opened his first restaurant. He was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 by Gov. Ruby Laffoon for his contributions to the state’s cuisine. He was again commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel in 1949 by his friend, Gov. Lawrence Wetherby, and he began donning his signature white suit and black tie. Sanders remained publicly active even in his 80s. He died of leukemia at the age of 90 in Shelbyville. His secret recipe – written in pencil on notebook paper – is kept in a vault inside KFC’s corporate headquarters in Louisville. You can sit beside a life-size statute of Col. Harland Sanders at the Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin. Yellow/ Wildcat Cab Now offering wheelchair accessible vans and used the money to start a company manufacturing acetylene lamps. This venture failed after Delco introduced a line of electric lamps sold on credit.