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Pizza Hut Co-founder Frank Carney Dies after COVID-19 Recovery — His Success Story

Junie Sihlangu
Dec 04, 2020
11:40 P.M.
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Frank Carney, the co-founder of the restaurant Pizza Hut, has sadly passed away. It’s been reported that his wife was the one who confirmed his death after he’d just recovered from the novel coronavirus disease.


Frank Carney died at the age of 82 on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. His wife, Janie, confirmed that he passed away in the morning at 4:30 a.m. from a serious bout of pneumonia.

The Pizza Hut co-founder had been at an assisted living facility in Wichita. His whereabouts at the time of his sudden death were confirmed by his wife and his brother, Dan Carney, who helped co-found the restaurant.

A Pizza Hut American restaurant chain in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on May 26, 2019 | Photo: Shutterstock/Eric Glenn

A Pizza Hut American restaurant chain in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on May 26, 2019 | Photo: Shutterstock/Eric Glenn


Janie shared how the time of her husband’s death also happened to be the same time he set on his alarm when he had a morning flight. He would set the same time even if he was leaving much later.

Frank’s death came just after he recovered from the novel coronavirus disease. The businessman had also been living with Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade of his life.


It’s said that pneumonia is a common illness for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Bill Walsh, the president of Daland Corp., a Wichita-based Pizza Hut franchise group, paid tribute to the late businessman saying:

“He is the most disciplined person I ever met, whether it was . . . exercising his body or his mind.”


His brother also remembered him as someone who would do what he’d promised to do no matter what. Frank and Dan started the Pizza Hut franchise in 1958 in a small former beer spot at Kellogg and Bluff.

When the upcoming businessman was a 19-year-old student at Wichita State University he pushed for the pizza business. Dan was 26 at the time and studying to get his MBA.


The siblings borrowed $600 from their mother to start the company after the landlord at the beer spot near their family’s Carney’s Market suggested the pizza business idea. In 1977, the brothers sold Pizza Hut to PepsiCo for $300 million.

When PepsiCo moved the Pizza Hut headquarters from Wichita to Dallas, Frank thought it was a bad move.

Frank eventually became a Papa John’s Pizza franchisee in the 1990s. He was a serial businessman but out of twenty companies, only around five of them made him serious money.


The late businessman also got into other food companies like Western Sizzlin and dabbled in real estate, automotive, oil and gas, rental, and recreational businesses. When PepsiCo moved the Pizza Hut headquarters from Wichita to Dallas, Frank thought it was a bad move.

That’s when he got involved with Papa John’s as one of its biggest franchisees. He was relentless and very passionate about his work and he kept working until he got Alzheimer’s disease.

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