Subway CEO Dead: Fred Deluca Loses Long Battle Against Leukemia

Fred Deluca, the CEO and co-founder of multinational sandwich shop Subway, passed away on Monday at the age of 67 after battling against Leukemia for more than two years of his life.

During 50 years as the driving force behind Subway, Fred took the company from a small, single location to the largest fast food corporations on earth. Originally intended as a project to raise money for medical school, it ended up being the center of Deluca’s life-long career.

Just over a decade after Subway’s first location opened, it had already expanded to the West Coast. By 1984, Fred oversaw the opening of the store’s first international location in the small Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain, according to the Wall Street Journal. Thousands of stores across Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa followed. Subway expanded so rapidly that by 2011, it had surpassed McDonald’s as the world’s largest food chain with 33,749 locations — 1,000 more than the former reigning champion of global quick eats.

Despite being able to capture massive success with Subway, Deluca differentiated himself from some of his competitors by having an open attitude toward increasing the minimum wage for fast food workers. Fred told CNBC that he wished wages were simply accounted for due to inflation.

“Over the years, I’ve seen so many of these wage increases. I think it’s normal. It won’t have a negative impact hopefully, and that’s what I tell my workers. I always have whenever we come across these things. I personally think that if I were in charge of the government, I would index the minimum wage to inflation so that way everybody knows what they can count on. The employees know they’re going to get increases on a regular basis. The management knows that they’re going to have to pay a little bit more with inflation. It just seems much more sensible and fair to me. I don’t know why it hasn’t been done like that. I would do it that way because in the long, long run it’s going to approximate the change in inflation.”

Fred Deluca slowly transferred his duties as CEO of Subway to his sister Suzanne Greco in the years before his death, reported Bloomberg. Though she will benefit from inheriting a business with the potential for significant expansion, Greco will also have to deal with the increasingly disastrous public scandal of former face of Subway Jared Fogle, whose reputation has taken a hit due to an investigation into allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with underage women.

[Image via Rafael Neddermeyer, Getty Images]