DBU Hosts Daughter of Chick-fil-A Founder, Trudy Cathy White

Trudy Cathy White from Chick-fil-A speaking in chapel on the DBU campus in Dallas

On Monday, March 18, Dallas Baptist University hosted Trudy Cathy White, daughter of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. At 19, Trudy became Chick-fil-A's youngest franchise operator and opened the second Chick-fil-A in Birmingham, Alabama. While operating this restaurant, Trudy met her husband, John White, and they have been married for 44 years, have four children, and have 17 grandchildren. She has served in Brazil with the International Missions Board and authored four books. Currently, she serves as an ambassador for Chick-fil-A and travels worldwide to share her story.

Trudy began her message with an introduction and a clever remark for the DBU students, "Hopefully, you'll walk out of here with a few nuggets of truth and principles from God's Word." Trudy continued by telling humorous stories about Chick-fil-A's mascot, the famous cows. She explained the mascot's purpose is to sell chicken, and in their advertisements, they will stop at nothing to sell that chicken. "The cows are laser-focused on their purpose in life." Since they are focused, their priorities become apparent. Trudy drew this conclusion from our walk with Christ, saying we must be laser-focused on the road Christ has set for us. "When you know your purpose, the priorities around you become crystal clear."

Trudy continued her message by recounting a story about the state of Chick-fil-A's business during a rough economic time in the mid-1980s. The brand was struggling, and they needed to reevaluate their focus and purpose. The company came to a realization that they were not in the food business or the chicken business. Instead, they are in the people business, and they are here to glorify God in all they do. The company renewed its purpose, and its mission became clear. They dedicated themselves to the strategy God had set before them: "Be a faithful steward of all God has entrusted to us and have a positive impact on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

Trudy also illustrated her father's difficulties at the beginning of his career. Truett entered the restaurant business in 1946 with the support of his brothers. A few years later, his brothers tragically passed away in a plane crash. Truett had lost his dear family and business partners. He felt lost in life and opened a second restaurant, but it soon became too much to handle. The Lord divinely intervened, and his new restaurant burned to the ground. He saw this tragedy as a blessing in disguise. Trudy explained, "God never wastes experiences in our lives. We don't choose to have fires, but we can choose how to respond to the fires that come into our lives. There's no obstacle too difficult to overcome when you cast your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Through these hardships, Truett realized that Biblical principles go hand-in-hand with good business practices. Trudy explained that Chick-fil-A is not successful because of some secret business strategy. Chick-fil-A is successful because it abides by the Word of God and because Biblical principles work. The company is dedicated to treating every employee like family and customer as a special guest, all while serving good, quality food. "Biblical principles will work if you stick to the truth God has given you."

After 18 years in the restaurant industry, the death of his brothers, and the destruction of one of his restaurants, Truett Cathy had an idea. He took some chicken, fried it in peanut oil, used hamburger buns and pickles, and invented the world's first chicken sandwich. This simple creation led to the Chick-fil-A brand that is widely known and loved today.

students holding Chick-fil-A while interacting on stage with Trudy Cathy White

At the end of the chapel service, Trudy invited Isom Smith, a DBU student and student worker on the DBU Grounds team, and Linda Smith, a clerk in the DBU mailroom who has worked at the university for 48 years, onto the chapel stage. Trudy highlighted their dedication to DBU and exemplary work as servant leaders, presenting them with a card valid for a year's worth of Chick-fil-A. Trudy also gave every student who attended chapel a "Be our guest card," redeemable for a free chicken sandwich at any Chick-fil-A location.

Trudy closed with a challenge for the DBU student body inspired by Colossians 3:23. "Your instructions are the words you say to people, and those are powerful. Your influence is the things you do. Often, your influence is more powerful, but your image is who you are. It's who God created you to be. We are to be a reflection of Him. When you understand your purpose, you clearly understand how important perseverance is. You understand how to have fun in life and how to make it a big party. And you work out of your passions. I challenge you today to do your very best. Because why not?"

Written by Cameron Billings

Cameron Billings is the Assistant Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.