Tim Hortons Co-founder, Ron Joyce, died in his home in Burlington, Ontario, Canada surrounded by his family on Thursday, according to the CBC.
The Nova Scotia native, who was born in 1930, is credited with helping the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain grow into a billion-dollar empire.
In a statement from Joyce's family his son, Steven Joyce, said, “My father had a big vision and a big heart. Through hard work, determination and drive, he built one of the most successful restaurant chains in Canada.”
Born and raised in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Joyce served in the Navy before becoming a police officer. After opening his first doughnut shop in 1964, Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player Tim Horton decided he wanted to expand. Even though he knew nothing about doughnuts, Joyce was chosen by Horton as his first franchisee.
"But by golly, I borrowed $10,000 from the credit union, and I had to learn in a hurry," he said in a 2006 interview with the CBC.
Horton passed away in 1974 in a car crash and Joyce became the leader of the company. Joyce grew the brand domestically and internationally. Today, there are now more than 4,800 stores worldwide with 3,600 units in Canada alone.
In 1996, Joyce sold Tim Hortons, which had 1,900 locations at the time, to Wendys for more than CA$600 million. Today Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Popeyes, operates the company.
The Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation was created after Hortons’ passing and allows children from low-income families to attend summer camp. After the sale of the company, Joyce focused more on his philanthropic efforts and created a second foundation: The Joyce Family Foundation, which brings scholarships and grants to students to make education more accessible.
"In his journey with Tim Hortons, he travelled all over the country and considered himself Canadian above all else," his son said in the statement Friday. "He never forgot his humble beginnings, with The Joyce Family Foundation donating extensively to support those who are less fortunate, especially children and youth."