OKLAHOMA CITY—Tom Love passed away in his hometown of Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Love’s Travel Stops announced.
"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,” said Shane Wharton, president of Love’s. “These tenets still guide our company and will as we move forward. Tom always listened and was sincerely interested in knowing the stories of employees and customers. He wanted to hear their thoughts, ideas and hopes for them, their families and the company. He credited the company's success to the people who worked for us. He could relate to all employees but had a soft spot for those on the frontline at stores. In many respects, he was an ordinary person who built an extraordinary business.”
Tom is survived by his wife of 62 years, Judy, his children Frank, Greg, Jenny and Laura, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and two more on the way.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather,” said the Love family. “He loved people, and that was evident in how he guided our family, operated the business he started in 1964 and gave back to our community and organizations across the country that serve others.”
In 1964, Tom and Judy Love used $5,000 to lease an abandoned service station in Watonga, a small rural town northwest of Oklahoma City. From a modest beginning, the then-named Musket Corporation opened 40 stores in eight years in western Oklahoma.
Under Tom’s leadership, Love's opened its first travel stop on Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas, in 1981, catering to professional truck drivers and the motoring public who sought convenience and efficiency when traveling across the country. Throughout the decades, Love’s has expanded its services to include hot and fresh food items, truck care maintenance and warm showers.
"Tom was a dear friend who I often turned to for advice,” said former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating. “He was a visionary, innovator, inspirational leader and compassionate person. Tom was a quintessential entrepreneur long before entrepreneurialism was ever in vogue. He loved his country, having served in the Marine Corps. He loved his hometown of Oklahoma City, where he headquartered his business. Tom loved his state and responded with alacrity and superb skill when he accepted my appointment as chairman of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. He was devoted to his dear wife, Judy, their four wonderful children, and many grand and great-grandchildren.”
The Oklahoman reports that “Forbes in December listed Love’s as the 10th-largest privately owned company in America, with $25.5 billion in revenues. The company, still owned by the Love family, employs more than 38,000 people in 42 states, including 2,000 in Oklahoma City.”