Love’s Travel Stops Founder Tom Love Dies at 85
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Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores founder Tom Love, who grew the company from a single service station to a chain of more than 600 truck stop locations nationwide, died March 7, the company announced. He was 85.
Love and his wife and business partner, Judy, in 1964 invested $5,000 to lease an abandoned service station in Watonga, Okla., a small rural town northwest of Oklahoma City. Over the next eight years, the company then known as Musket Corp. opened 40 stores across western Oklahoma.
In 1972, Love brought a new concept to the business — the country store — which combined existing grocery and convenience stores with a self-service gas station. A location in Guymon, Okla., became the first to deploy this model, which featured extended hours and was open seven days a week.
The company expanded further in 1981, opening its first travel stop along Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas. This location catered to professional truck drivers with the addition of expanded hot and fresh food items, truck maintenance and showers.
It is with heavy hearts, we announce Tom Love, founder and executive chair of Love’s Travel Stops has passed away at age 85. https://t.co/AedWYy13gA pic.twitter.com/zasGNdT08n — Love's Travel Stops (@LovesTravelStop) March 7, 2023
The company opened its 600th location in October 2022.
“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. He 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. While the grief we feel is unmeasurable, we celebrate his life and will continue his legacy of living a life filled with integrity, honesty and faith.”
“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.”
Love's opened its 600th location in October 2022. (Love's Travel Stops via YouTube)
“During the course of nearly 60 years, Tom and Judy Love revolutionized the travel center and truck stop industry,” said Lisa Mullings, CEO of Natso, in a statement provided to Transport Topics. “Tom is an industry icon and stands among the founding members of our remarkable industry. Tom embarked on a vision that still serves as a framework on which our industry stands today.”
Tom and Judy Love started the business in 1964. (Photo courtesy of the Love family)
Today, Love’s Travel Stops operates in 42 states.
Former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating praised Tom’s intelligence and commitment to community.
“Tom was a dear friend who I often turned to for advice. He was a visionary, innovator, inspirational leader and compassionate person. Tom was a quintessential entrepreneur long before entrepreneurialism was ever in vogue.”
Keating added, “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.”
Born in 1937 in Oklahoma City, Tom attended St. John’s University in Minnesota before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1954. He and Judy married in 1960.
In addition to Judy, Tom is survived by his children Frank, Greg, Jenny and Laura, nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and two more on the way.
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