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Wichita, a burghal that prides itself on its ambitious spirit, has absent a business behemothic who embodied that ideal.
Frank Carney, who with his brother Dan started the Pizza Hut authority in 1958 in a tiny above beer collective at Kellogg and Bluff, died Wednesday from pneumonia.
Carney’s wife, Janie, accepted his 4:30 a.m. afterlife — the aforementioned time she said he consistently acclimated to set his anxiety back he had a morning flight — behindhand what time he was leaving.
The 82-year-old had afresh recovered from COVID-19, but he additionally had Alzheimer’s ache for added than a decade, and pneumonia is accepted in Alzheimer’s patients.
The ache was a decidedly atrocious fate for accession who had taken aberrant affliction of his body.
“He is the best acclimatized actuality I anytime met, whether it was . . . appliance his anatomy or his mind,” said Bill Walsh, admiral of Daland Corp., a ample Wichita-based Pizza Hut authorization group.
Dan Carney offered the aforementioned appraisal of his brother.
“When he absitively he was activity to do something, he aloof . . . went afterwards it.”
Frank Carney was 19 and a apprentice at Wichita State University — his brother was 26 and accepting his MBA there — back they adopted $600 from their mother to alpha a pizza business at the advancement of the freeholder at the beer collective abreast their family’s Carney’s Market.
“When you are starting a business that’s activity to pay your way through college, you don’t alike anticipate about what the abridgement is doing,” Frank Carney said at a 1992 entrepreneurship appointment at WSU, which was appear in The Eagle.
“We didn’t affliction about who was in the White House or what the unemployment amount was. The entrepreneur, all he thinks about is: Is there a bazaar for the product? Can I advertise it?”
Carney’s admonition at the appointment was to acquisition a alcove and afresh focus, a assignment he abstruse a cher way as he became a consecutive entrepreneur.
A consecutive entrepreneur
Between affairs Pizza Hut to PepsiCo for $300 actor in 1977 and abundantly acceptable a Papa John’s Pizza franchisee in the 1990s — “Sorry guys: I begin a bigger pizza,” he said in a civic bartering — Carney had all kinds of added ventures. Alone bristles of about 20 of the companies fabricated him money, which his brother said is absolutely not a bad average.
“He apparently absent best of what he had fabricated in Pizza Hut,” Dan Carney said. “He was not depressed. He was aloof advancing to body article different.”
Carney was complex in added aliment companies, such as Western Sizzlin, forth with absolute estate, oil and gas, automotive, rental and recreational businesses afore chief to attenuated his focus again.
“I woke up one day in 1988 with about 28 altered things I was doing,” he told The Eagle in 1997. “That’s not my abundance level. That’s not area I do my best work.”
Carney’s affable actualization sometimes belied a barbarous resolve.
When PepsiCo absitively to move the Pizza Hut address from Wichita to Dallas — a decision, amid abounding the association made, that Carney anticipation was a aberration — it helped coalesce his own accommodation to booty the Wichita Papa John’s bazaar and attempt adjoin his accompany and above business associates.
“I alleged Papa John’s and said, ‘I appetite Wichita. Let’s do it,’ ” he told The Eagle.
Carney became one of the bigger Papa John’s franchisees and kept alive until Alzheimer’s struck.
“Work is a activity force — an capital activity force,” he already said.
“He aloof was business from the time he woke up in the morning to the time he went to bed at night,” said Ken Miller, a Daland accomplice who aboriginal went to assignment for Pizza Hut in 1969.
He said Carney didn’t accept a big faculty of humor. Instead, he advised a lot and was “no nonsense, aloof accord me the facts and let’s get on bottomward the road.”
Carney was not alone accomplished but an educator, Miller said, and took “every adventitious he got to accelerate us off to some school.”
Bill Warren said Carney was as abundant a coach to him as a partner.
A 19-year-old Warren, alive as a administrator at the Orpheum Theatre, apprehend about Pizza Hut and — after alive better, he said — alleged Carney back he capital to get into the amphitheater business.
“I said, ‘I would like to allege to Mr. Carney,’ and they said, ‘Which one?’ ”
Warren was bent off guard.
“I said, ‘Which one’s the president? They said, ‘Frank Carney.’ I said, ‘I’ll allocution to him.’
“Luckily, Frank’s secretary was on vacation, and if it wasn’t for that, I would still be cat-and-mouse to get through.”
Warren discussed his abstraction for abate theaters with Carney. Back they met in actuality and Carney appropriate Warren get admonition about a abeyant site, Warren had it aural a brace of hours, and Carney laughed at his eagerness. Thirty canicule later, the two had a partnership.
In accession to actuality “a ablaze businessman,” Warren said Carney accomplished him what it agency to accept candor in business. He said Carney was accepted for consistently saying, “The actualization of a battle of absorption is as bad as a battle of interest.”
Carney additionally accomplished Warren to not anguish about competitors, alone customers, and “the blow will booty affliction of itself.”
“It was like accepting a big brother,” Warren said. “It was the luckiest affair going.”
Looking the part
In accession to actuality driven, Walsh said Carney capital to attending the part, too.
“He was not activity to attending annoyed or act tired.”
Once, they were in a annoying affair with some Wall Street analysts, and Carney was disturbing to break awake.
To accumulate alert, Walsh said Carney “was aloof digging his barb into his added hand, and all of a sudden, he started bleeding. Now that’s discipline.”
While Dan Carney hated affairs so abundant he’d booty abroad people’s chairs so they wouldn’t overstay, Frank Carney admired them, said Pizza Hut franchisee Bob Geist.
“He was a abundant planner. A abiding planner. . . . He’s acclaimed for his five-year plans.”
Carney additionally ran triathlons and raced cars. He adopted decidedly attenuate angle to pizza, admitting back he did adjustment it he admired ham, pineapple and jalapeno.
In the aboriginal canicule of Pizza Hut, one of his specialties was aloof Pizza Hut sites and alluring franchisees.
Former Sullivan Higdon & Sink announcement controlling Al Higdon remembers rooming with Carney during Kansas Air Civic Bouncer camps two summers in a row in Georgia and Wisconsin.
Higdon said best bodies flew to the camps.
“Frank, instead, charted a advance and collection it the accomplished way.”
He took the befalling to recruit Pizza Hut franchisees forth the route.
Higdon said he remembers the Carney brothers “were scrambling” for franchisees, and Frank Carney “had a acceptable clue almanac of signing them up” afore accession at camp, putting on his compatible and actuality a soldier again.
“I anticipate it’s emblematic of his assignment belief and what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”
Entrepreneurship was so appetizing to Carney, and so abounding bodies eventually approached him with accessible deals that he abdicate looking, Warren said.
“ ‘If you took a attending at it, you aloof ability like it,’ “ Warren remembers one actuality saying, “and Frank said, ‘That’s what I’m abashed of.”
Serious but witty
Carney was so austere that some accompany who were discussing how to acclaim him said they couldn’t appear up with any agrarian tales of crazy times with their friend.
“We couldn’t anticipate of anything,” Geist said.
“He was not a guy bluffing around,” Walsh said.
Warren takes barring to comments about Carney’s amusement and personality, admitting he accustomed his accord with him may accept been altered than most.
“He had a actual acceptable Irish faculty of amusement back he capital to appearance it, let’s put it that way.”
Janie Carney said abounding bodies anticipation of her bedmate as serious, but she said his wit is what admiring her — and that he was a adolescent acute aleck.
“We laughed a lot,” she said. “He could acquaint me added about myself than I could. . . . There was a faculty of assurance that he emitted that I could acquiesce my body to be in his care.”
Carney said her bedmate had a abysmal caring for others, such as above Gov. Jeff Colyer, who as a 12-year-old approved banal admonition from Frank Carney — admonition that concluded up advantageous for best of his education.
Janie Carney said her bedmate acclimated to appointment his restaurants in assignment clothes instead of apparel and ties and was able to assignment back he arrived, such as charwoman a bath while abashed advisers asked what he was doing.
She said she knew he’d accept the aforementioned attitude with the Alzheimer’s analysis he alternate in.
“You get in and bathe with it because if you don’t get in, you can’t advice anybody.”
Geist said Carney had abounding abundant qualities.
“He was a actual accommodating man and a dear, baby friend,” he said, “One of the best atonement businessmen I anytime knew in my life.”
Business fabricated him happy, Carney already told The Eagle, and he accepted his life.
“I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
©2020 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)
Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com
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