MILFORD, Conn. – Fred DeLuca, co-founder of Subway, died Sept. 14 at age 67 after battling leukemia, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2013. 

Fred DeLuca, co-founder of Subway, dies at age 67.
Fred DeLuca, co-founder of Subway

DeLuca began Subway with Dr. Peter Buck in 1965. Subway celebrated its 50th anniversary a few weeks ago.

DeLuca was only 17 when the first sandwich shop opened in Bridgeport, Conn. He borrowed $1,000 from Buck to open the sandwich shop, called Pete’s Submarines, to make money to pay for college.

In 1974, after opening 16 stores and changing the name to Subway, DeLuca and Buck began to sell franchises. In 1978, Subway opened its 100th outlet and hit 1,000 outlets in 1987. Today, there are 44,268 independently owned Subway franchises in 110 countries. McDonald’s has about 36,000.

Subway, based in Milford, Conn., does not publicly report financial results, but Forbes reported in 2012 that its revenues were about $18 billion.

Even though he was diagnosed with leukemia, DeLuca still oversaw Subway as CEO, but he recently named his sister, Suzanne Greco, as president to run the day-to-day operations.

DeLuca was an active member of the International Franchise Association, a recipient of numerous awards and accolades. He was a supporter of many charitable organizations focused mainly on those that promoted self-sufficiency and education programs.

DeLuca leaves behind his wife, sister and son. In a press release announcing his death, Subway also mentioned that DeLuca leaves behind members of his extended family — “the thousands of team members that make up the Subway brand all over the world.”

“He was always very proud of the work of his HQ staff and thousands of developers, franchisees, sandwich artists, suppliers and partners who he often and affectionately called, ‘The Greatest Team in Franchising,’ according to Subway.