Colonel Harland Sanders, born near Henryville, Indiana, September 9, 1890 Founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Empire Died Louisville, Kentucky, December 16, 1980
His Beloved Wife, Claudia Ellen Sanders, born near London, Kentucky, September 7, 1902 Truly “The Colonel’s Lady” and Co-Worker in His Enterprises Died Shelbyville, Kentucky, December 31, 1996
Colonel Harland David Sanders was an Horatio Alger story, albeit rags to riches as a late bloomer. He grew up poor from a broken home, Sanders kept trying his hand at business until, at the age of 65, he hit upon success using a fried chicken recipe he perfected to make him a fortune. In the process, he became a beloved American icon sporting his trademark goatee and white suit, appearing in hundreds of television commercials to promote Kentucky Fried Chicken and its “secret recipe.”
The Colonel’s monument, with a pediment on top of four Doric columns framing his bust, gives the visitor a sense that Colonel Sanders is greeting them on the front porch of his plantation.
On my visit today to his grave at the Cave Hill Cemetery, in Louisville, Kentucky, fans left pennies, nickels, and dimes to mark their visit to this venerable fried chicken perfectionist’s grave. It is said that often ketchup packets and KFC buckets have been left behind, too.
On this day, one fan left him a note that said, “Dear Colonel, I really don’t like your chicken, but I admire the fact that you left your mark on the world.”