David R. Edgerton, Jr., best known as the co-founder of Burger King, passed from this life on April 3, 2018, of complications from surgery, necessitated by a serious fall.
David was born May 26, 1927, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania to Blanche Berger and David Russell Edgerton. He was predeceased by both parents, as well as his only sister, Jane Edgerton Johnson.
After graduation from high school, David served in the U.S. Army. Afterwards, he attended Cornell University where he majored in Hotel/Restaurant Management. He later attended Business School at Northwestern University.
He showed his entrepreneurial bent while at Northwestern, where he founded a Pie Company, with the help of a baker, Edith Fennissey. The company was very successful and was later sold at a nice profit. Thereafter, David worked for the Albert Pick Hotel chain as a traveling auditor and for Howard Johnson’s as a restaurant manager.
In 1954, he opened an Insta Burger Restaurant and was building his second store when he met James McLamore. They formed a corporation and transformed the Insta Burger into a new, fast food concept under the registered name of Burger King. David’s expertise was in equipment invention, food quality and creative ideas; while Jim’s was in financing and business details. It was a wonderful match and partnership. David invented the Burger King continuous-chain broiler that was a huge departure from what was currently being used in the industry. When they sold Burger King to the Pillsbury Company, Jim stayed with Pillsbury, but David decided to go in a different direction.
He started the steakhouse restaurants known as Bodega. He built it into a chain of 12 restaurants with locations in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit and Dallas. This chain was sold in 1978.
In the meantime, he had been participating with Leonce Picot in a group of high-end restaurants: the Down Under in Ft. Lauderdale, La Vieille Maison in Boca Raton and Casa Vecchia in Ft. Lauderdale. He later moved to California and headed up the Old House in Monterey and 1001 Nob Hill in San Francisco, again in partnership with Mr. Picot.
David returned to the Orlando area to be near his aging father and sister, but he needed something to do. Betty Amos Righetti, a CPA, who had handled his financial and business affairs since 1973, had become a Fuddruckers franchisee. She invited him to become a minority partner in the three she owned in the Central Florida area, which he did, and relished the time he was able to spend in the restaurants inspecting and “tinkering”. Betty was one of many who credited David as being her mentor in the restaurant business. This was the last of his restaurant ventures.
Although David had no children of his own, he dearly loved them. There were many to whom, even after reaching adulthood, he remained the “favorite” Uncle David. Amongst these, were his own, true nephews and niece, his cousins’ families; as well as the five Shackleford children: Bobby, Dainey, Eleanor, Lutie and Chris; the McLamore children; Pam, Lynne, Susie and Whit; and Jeffrey Amos, and all of their spouses and children. David was always available to help the “elves” assemble toys on Christmas Eve.
David treasured friendship above money or any other material things. If you were ever his friend, you remained one for life.
David traveled extensively for business and pleasure, both at home and abroad. He spent much time in his beloved Aspen.
One of David’s great interests was wine, which led to another business he established of importing French wines for his restaurants, as well as his own wine cellar.
Always a restaurateur, there was nothing David enjoyed more than going out to eat at different restaurants. Until the last weeks of his life, which were spent hospitalized, Bob Shackleford would call him every morning to make sure he was all right. The conversation never ended without David asking him if he wanted to go out to eat that night.
David leaves to mourn his passing his niece, Judy Lunseth; nephew, James Lunseth (Libby) and nephew, Richard (Sharon) Lunseth and their sons, Calvin and Charles.
He also leaves several loving cousins: Mary Edgerton Sloat, Willis Sloat, Stuart Sloat, Bonnie Edgerton Trismen, Amanda T. Wilson, Elizabeth Trismen, Daphne Page and Danna Cullen.
David and the beautiful Kerstin Birgitta Andersson, were united in marriage in her home town in Drottningholm, Sweden in a magical, storybook wedding in 1968. Although the marriage ended a few short years later, neither ever remarried, and they remained the best of friends throughout the years. Kerstin was his one, great, true love until the end of his life. She survives him.
While David had no relatives living in the Miami area, he had his own “Miami Family”, consisting primarily of Bob and Dainey Shackleford and their family and Betty Amos Righetti and her family. They will all miss him so much.
Among his dearest friends to this day remain several of his franchisees and business associates from the Burger King days. Chief among these are David Stein, Bob Furman, Jimmy Trotter, Billy Trotter, Peter McGuire and Manny Garcia. These wonderful men and their families were always there for David and were another part of his expanded family. They, too, mourn his passing.
David resided in the East Ridge Retirement Village for the past 4 years, where he formed many new friendships.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, at the Stanfill Funeral Home.