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Frank Carney, Co-Founder of Pizza Hut, Dies at 82

Frank Carney left the company in 1980 and as an investor embarked on various business ventures, including real estate, oil and gas, and other food enterprises, most of which failed. “Frank was a very driven person,” Dan Carney said. “He would pick up an idea and run with it. You just don’t win every time.”

Frank Lawrence Carney was born in Wichita on April 26, 1938, one of seven children of Michael and Mary Frances Carney. His father worked in a meatpacking plant and later opened a corner grocery, where all the family members eventually worked. When his father died at 46, his mother took over the store.

Mr. Carney attended Wichita University from 1956 to 1961, but his full-time job at Pizza Hut precluded him from finishing his degree. Citing a promise his mother had made to his father before he died — that all seven children would graduate from college — Mr. Carney returned to the university in 1999 and received a bachelor’s degree in general studies in 2000. (The original Pizza Hut building was moved onto the campus in 1986 as a tribute to the company and the Carney brothers.)

Mr. Carney was married three times. In addition to his brother Dan, survivors include his wife, Janie Carney; their daughter, Megan Metcalf; six children from his first marriage, Darrin, Brian, Sheila, Peter and Kier Carney and Mara Bruce; two children from his second marriage, Trevor Carney and Tressa Diebes; two other brothers, Jerry and Peter; three sisters, Mary Ann Skolaut, Sally Jonas and Eileen Nevers; 18 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

By 1993, the millions Frank Carney had made from Pizza Hut were lost to his failed ventures. “I never thought it would turn out as disastrous as it did,” he said in a 2002 interview with Pizza Marketplace, an industry news website. “It’s very stressful when you find out that you’re not as smart as you thought you were.”

He then sought a position at Pizza Hut but was unhappy with the offer he received. Instead, in 1994, he became a franchise owner of Papa John’s, a major pizza chain competitor. His embrace of a rival displeased his brother — but, as Dan Carney said, he “did what he wanted.”

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