Verne Winchell was an American businessman
and founder of Winchell's Donut Houses,
which he built into a chain of nearly
Biographical fast facts
Date and place of birth: October 30, 1915,
Bloomington, Illinois, U.S.A.*
Date, place and cause of death: November 26, 2002,
at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. (Cardiac arrest)
Verne Winchell's business career began when
he opened Winchell Music, a coin-operated
jukebox and game business (1938-45). Winchell
Motors followed (1945-48). His doughnut
empire began in 1948, with a single shop
in Temple City, California. He built Winchell's
Donut House into a chain of nearly 1,000 shops.
Verne Winchell merged his Winchell's Donut
Houses with Denny's in the late '60s, and
he went on to serve as President and Chairman
of the board of Denny's Restaurants (1970-1980).
It wasn't until 1984, that Winchell left the
doughnut and restaurant business, when he
sold his stock in Denny's for a reported
Verne Winchell was also a leading racehorse
owner and breeder who owned more than 40 stakes
winners. He had three horses race in the
Kentucky Derby over the years. Classic Go Go,
who finished fourth in the 1981 Kentucky Derby,
Sea Cadet, who finished eighth in 1991,
(Winchell paid just $2,800 for Sea Cadet in
1989, yet went on to win more than $1.7 million
during the 1990s) and Valiant Nature, who
finished 13th in 1994. Other racehorses he
owned and raced include, Donut King, Mr. Tower,
Mr. America, Mr. Eiffel, Ancient Mariner,
Mira Femme, Ronnie's Baby (Ronnie's Baby,
was bred by President Ronald Reagan and purchased
from Desi Arnaz), Tight Spot, On Target,
Call Now, Amerique, Future Quest, and Olympio.
The Arlington Million, Del Mar Futurity,
Longacres Mile, Champagne Stakes, Hollywood
Futurity, Meadowlands Cup and Arkansas Derby,
are but a few of the races won by his horses.
He bred more than 60 stakes winners at his
320-acre Oakwind Farm, near Lexington, Kentucky.
When he died in 2002, he was survived by
his wife of 37 years, Joan, his daughters,
Christina Winchell and Linda Schumacher, and
sons, Ronald Winchell and Richard Winchell.
Error correction or clarification
* Verne Winchell's birthplace is erroneously reported
as "Bloomington, Indiana," by some sources.
As stated above, he was born in Bloomington, Illinois.
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