Tom Love, founder and executive chairman of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, passed away in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on March 7, according to an emailed company announcement. He was 85.
Love is survived by his wife and business partner, Judy; his children Frank, Greg, Jenny and Laura; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
"Tom Love was a man of conviction who never wavered from the principles of honesty and integrity in the 59 years he spent developing the company he started with his wife, Judy,” Shane Wharton, president of Love’s, said in the announcement. “These tenets still guide our company and will as we move forward.”
In 1964, Tom and Judy Love entered the convenience business by leasing an abandoned service station in Watonga, Oklahoma, for $5,000. The then-named Musket Corporation grew to 40 stores by 1972.
At that time, Love introduced the country store, which combined grocery and convenience business models with a self-service gas station. In 1981, he debuted the first Love’s travel center in Amarillo, Texas, which focused on professional truckers and other motorists looking for convenience while traveling across the country.
Over 40 years later, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores has grown into one of the largest c-store businesses in the U.S., surpassing 600 locations last year.
During his time leading the company, Love received many honors, including the 1996 President's Award for Service to God and Country; Oklahoma's Most Admired CEO in 2010; and the Trust Guardian Transportation Award in 2014. He was inducted into the Chickasaw, Oklahoma, Hall of Fame in 2019 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2000. Love was also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.
“[Love] was always committed to helping others succeed and opening the door for leaders, including his children and grandchildren, and we look forward to building upon his legacy,” the Love Family said in the announcement.