WinShape founder dies at 93

Rachel Yeates, Campus Carrier News Editor

S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation and a longtime supporter of Berry, died at 1:35 a.m. Monday at the age of 93. He died peacefully at home in the company of family and loved ones, according to a press release by the WinShape Foundation.

College president Stephen R. Briggs said he will remember him as having an “effervescent personality.”

He had a “very good wit — just a wonderful nature,” Briggs said. “He enjoyed being with people.”

Cathy’s relationship with Berry College extends back nearly 30 years. Briggs explained the beginning of this connection beginning in 1984.

“The president at that time was Dr. Gloria Shatto,” Briggs said. “He came up and gave a talk at her request, and then she went and gave a talk at the Rotary club that he belonged to, and they hit it off.”

“Eventually she asked him if he had any ideas about what Berry might do with its mountain campus property because Berry was in the process of bringing to closure the high school that was there at the time,” Briggs continued. “So [Cathy] thought about it a little bit and came up with the idea of the WinShape [College] Program. That was where it started.”

The scholarship is funded by both the Winshape Foundation and Berry.

Founded in 1982 by Cathy and his wife Jeannette, the WinShape Foundation is a multimillion dollar charity that supports scholarship initiatives, a network of foster homes and various marriage counseling programs.

Jilli Leonard, a senior WinShape scholarship recipient, will remember Cathy with gratitude. She has grown up involved in WinShape summer camps and worked at Chick-fil-A for four years.

“I think that’s the ultimate form of influence,” Leonard said. “He has no idea the trickle down effect to people like me.”

                                                                                 Photo contributed by Alan Storey
Truett Cathy (center) receives an honorary doctorate in 2008 from Berry trustee Glenn
Cornell (left) and College President Stephen R. Briggs (right). 

Leonard commented on her conversations with others who had been affected by Cathy’s work.

“Nobody was really distraught that he’d passed away which I thought was surprising,” Leonard said. “But if you look at his life — I mean he’s 93 — he did everything.”

Fellow senior and WinShape scholarship recipient Logan Staples spoke of the benefits of being a part of the schorship program, calling WinShape a “place of refuge.”

“Probably the most important and best decision I ever made was coming [to Berry] and being in WinShape,” Staples said, “It’s been a huge area of growth for me.”

Leonard would agree.

“I wouldn’t be a Berry College student if I didn’t have this scholarship and this leadership training that I’ve gotten through Winshape,” she said.

Berry’s relationship with the foundation does not end with the WinShape scholarship. Cathy funded the WinShape retreat center, also on mountain campus.

Briggs said that in the early 2000s Cathy met with then college president Scott Colley. Cathy and Colley worked together to renovate the Norman Dairy Barns and some of the nearby buildings into the current retreat center.

“[The relationship between Cathy and Berry] is multifaceted and very good for the development and renovation of the mountain campus,” Briggs said. “It has allowed the [WinShape Foundation] to accomplish some of their goals as a charitable ministry.”

In 2008, Berry awarded Cathy an honorary doctorate in honor of extraordinary achievement and meritorious service to the college.

“His sphere of influence is enormous,” Leonard said. “He impacted lives through so many generations. He was an incredible man.”

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