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J. W. McLamore; Burger King Co-Founder

August 11, 1996|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — James Whitman McLamore, co-founder of fast-food giant Burger King, whose Whoppers became a staple of the American diet, has died. He was 70.

McLamore died Thursday of lung cancer.

The fast-food pioneer opened his first restaurant, Insta Burger King, in Miami in 1951 and two years later met David Edgerton, his Burger King co-founder. Their hamburger chain eventually grew to the second-largest in the world, with more than 7,200 restaurants.

Edgerton invented the chain-broiler system used today by all Burger King restaurants, and McLamore fashioned the Whopper, still the company's best-selling hamburger.

"There are only two things our customers have: time and money, and they don't like spending either of them, so we better sell them their hamburgers quickly," McLamore said in 1994, explaining the restaurant's philosophy.

McLamore was president or chairman of the board of Burger King for more than 21 years and remained chairman emeritus of the company until his death.

"He was not just the co-founder of our company, he was the heart of it," Burger King Chairman and CEO Robert Lowes said in a statement.

The company was sold to Pillsbury in 1967, and is now part of Britain's Grand Metropolitan PLC.

McLamore served as a trustee of the University of Miami and as a director of numerous U.S. companies including Pillsbury, Ryder Systems, Storer Communications and Southeast Bank.

He practiced and inspired philanthropy. Burger King honored him by funding the McLamore Children's Center, a residence for abused children built in Miami in 1985.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Nancy, four children and eight grandchildren.

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