The company announced on its website that Tom Love died Tuesday in Oklahoma City. He was 85. A cause of death was not given.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather,” family members said in the statement. “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.”
Love and his wife, Judy, founded what became Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores as Musket Corporation in 1964, according to the statement. They leased a closed service station for $5,000 in Watonga, about 50 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
“In many respects, he was an ordinary person who built an extraordinary business alongside his wife Judy and his family, who he loved deeply,” Love’s President Shane Wharton said in the company statement.
Love’s, worth $9.7 billion in 2022 according to Forbes, remains family owned. It now operates about 600 travel stops in 42 states with more than 39,000 employees, mostly along interstate highways.
Love established a concept that combined grocery and convenience stores with fuel stops, opening what the company said was the first combination grocery-convenience store with a self-service gasoline station in 1972 in Guymon, Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Love’s opened its first travel stop on Interstate 40 in Amarillo, Texas, in 1981, catering to professional truck drivers and other motorists seeking convenience and efficiency when traveling across the country.
Love’s has expanded those services to include truck maintenance and roadside assistance for tractor-trailer rigs, and showers in the stores.
The company logo, a multi-colored, multi-layered heart with a red heart seemingly moving toward the viewer is featured atop the store’s signs along interstates, on the jersey’s of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder and on NASCAR Cup Series cars.
Love is survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.