West News Wire: The founder of the truck stop franchise noted for its red and yellow heart emblem, “Clean Places, Friendly Faces” tagline, and in-store showers has passed away, according to Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores.
Tom Love passed away in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, according to the company’s website announcement. He was 85. No specific cause of death was revealed.
“We are very devastated by the departure of our beloved husband, father and grandfather,” family members wrote in the statement. “While the loss we feel is immeasurable, we celebrate his life and will uphold his legacy of leading a life characterized by honesty, faith, and integrity.”
According to the statement, Love and his wife Judy launched Musket Corporation in 1964, which later became Love’s Travel Stops and Country Shops. They leased a closed service station for $5,000 in Watonga, about 50 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
“In many respects, he was an ordinary person who built an extraordinary business alongside his wife Judy and his family, who he loved deeply,” Love’s President Shane Wharton said in the company statement.
Love’s, worth $9.7 billion in 2022 according to Forbes, remains family owned. It now operates about 600 travel stops in 42 states with more than 39,000 employees, mostly along interstate highways.
Love established a concept that combined grocery and convenience stores with fuel stops, opening what the company said was the first combination grocery-convenience store with a self-service gasoline station in 1972 in Guymon, Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Love’s opened its first travel stop on Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas, in 1981, catering to professional truck drivers and other motorists seeking convenience and efficiency when traveling across the country.
Love’s has expanded those services to include truck maintenance and roadside assistance for tractor-trailer rigs, and showers in the stores.
The company logo, a multi-colored, multi-layered heart with a red heart seemingly moving toward the viewer is featured atop the store’s signs along interstates, on the jersey’s of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and on NASCAR Cup Series cars.
Love is survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.