Waffle House co-founder dies a month after his business partner

Joe Rogers, Sr., left, and Tom Forkner, right, started the Waffle House chain in 1955, in Avondale Estates. Rogers and Forkner pose outside a Waffle House off Old Peachtree Road and I-85 in Duluth.

In March, Waffle House co-founder Joe Rogers Sr. died at age 97, leaving his 99-year-old partner Tom Forkner behind. Now, Forkner has died, the Atlanta-based company confirmed Thursday.

Details on the death weren’t immediately released.

The partners, who were neighbors, founded Waffle House in 1955 in Avondale Estates. The pair had met when Rogers bought a house from Forkner, who was in the real estate business.


They decided the DeKalb County city needed a 24-hour restaurant. It launched Labor Day.

Forkner stuck with the business side of the company as it grew into a Southern icon, leaving Rogers to customer relations.

The two largely phased themselves out of the day-to-day in the 1970s. They still spent time at the corporate headquarters in Norcross even in their mid-80s.