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TRULY THANKFUL: J. B. FUQUA


When J. B. Fuqua was just a boy, someone lent him a helping hand. And he paid them back millions of times over for their kindness. J. B. grew up in rural Virginia in the years after World War I. Those were lean times for many people. J. B. made up his mind at a young age that he would be rich someday. But for a young man of very modest means and not much opportunity, it would be difficult just to make ends meet.


One thing that caught J. B.’s fancy was learning to operate a ham radio. But in order for a person to make a career in radio, he would have to be well-educated. And J. B. had no way to afford a better education. But one day, he learned that Duke University in North Carolina had a lending program in which people could check out library books by mail. J. B. began sending off for books on radio, finance, business, banking. He read everything he could get his hands on, and taught himself everything there was to know about the radio business at that time.


With this knowledge, J. B. opened his own radio station in Augusta, Georgia. Soon, he added a second station. He began investing his money wisely. As his wealth grew, J. B. began buying and selling various businesses. He made his first million by the age of thirty-five. He entered the political ring, where he served in Georgia’s House of Representatives. By 1970, Fuqua Industries was listed as a Fortune 500 company.


And once he had achieved such incredible success, J. B. Fuqua decided to give something back to the institution that had helped him get an education. In 1980, he made a gift of property and money to Duke University. In all, his donation was valued at $20 million. Not long afterwards, Fuqua convinced his friend, Dave Thomas of Wendy’s restaurants, to donate another $4 million to the school. Today, if you visit the campus of Duke University, you’ll notice their business school is named the Fuqua School of Business. No one at Duke could have known, all those years ago, that their decision to set up a lending library would have such an impact on anyone’s life. And they never would have guessed how that kind gesture ever would have been repaid either.


J. B. Fuqua was truly thankful for Duke University’s lending library. When you are truly thankful for something, you want to do something in return. Only one of these ten men that Jesus healed was truly grateful. He returned to give Jesus thanks. My guess is he also did something worthwhile with his life.

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