1991 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"I think the ability to focus is a thread that runs through so-called successful people, which can be self-taught."
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1933, Fred Turner was the son of a bread salesman. During his teen years, Turner held odd jobs to help his family, such as clerking at a drug store and delivering dry cleaning.
He attended Drake University from 1951 to 1954. In 1956, after two years in the Army where he attained the rank of corporal, he was hired by the legendary founder of McDonald's, Ray Kroc. Though Turner had originally hoped for his own franchise, Kroc wanted him on the corporate side. Shortly before turning 26, Turner was named operations vice president. Ten years later, in 1968, he became president. From 1973 to 1987, he served as CEO, and replaced Kroc as chairman in 1977, when Kroc became senior chairman. Turner served as senior chairman from 1990 until he retired in 2004. After that, he served as honorary chairman of McDonald's.
Turner is widely viewed as the chief builder of the modern McDonald's. He was responsible for building into McDonald's the quality and consistency that would become the company's most visible trademark and the standard against which all other fast food operations would be judged. When he became president, there were 1,000 stores in operation. Today, McDonald's is the world's leading food service organization, serving about 50 million people a day in more than 33,000 stores in 118 countries.
Turner was a life trustee of Ronald McDonald's Charities and a former trustee of Drake University. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement's Chicago Business Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1990 the editors of Advertising Age magazine named him "Ad Man of the Decade" for the 80's. Turner received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Drake University in 1983. He received an honorary doctor of business administration in foodservice management from Johnson & Wales University in 1991.
Asked about advice on how to succeed, Turner said, "Work hard, use your common sense and don't be afraid to trust your instincts. But do something you enjoy. My heart cries for people who are employed in something they don't like. You're so much farther ahead if you're in something you enjoy."* Deceased