William Rosenberg was born Dorchester and spent his early years there. In 1950, William Rosenberg founded Dunkin' Donuts. By 1954, Mr. Rosenberg had opened a total of five Dunkin' Donuts shops, and had been featured as a young entrepreneur in national publications such as The Saturday Evening Post and Coronet magazine. Today, Dunkin' Donuts has over 6,000 shops in 30 countries, and is the leading retailer of coffee, donuts and bagels.
In 1960, Mr. Rosenberg founded The International Franchise Association (IFA). Today, the IFA encompasses more than 800 franchisors and over 30,000 franchisee members. The group continues to play a key role in franchising, which accounts for almost fifty percent of all retail business done in America.
In 1968, Mr. Rosenberg purchased New Hampshire-based Wilrose Farm, which quickly became the number-one stable in New England and one of the premier Standard bred racing stables in the country. At its peak, Wilrose Farm had two hundred horses, including thirty racehorses. In 1980, Mr. Rosenberg donated Wilrose Farm, valued at two million dollars, to the University of New Hampshire. Fourteen years later, the university sold the farm and endowed the William Rosenberg Chair in Franchising and Entrepreneurship, the first such faculty position in the university world.
In 1983, Mr. Rosenberg founded the International Horse Racing Association, and was honored in 1988 with the first-ever Achievement Award by Harness Horsemen International.
Mr. Rosenberg donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes. In 1986, he established the William Rosenberg Chair in Medicine at Harvard Medical School through the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In 1989, Mr. Rosenberg became the first honorary trustee at Dana Farber, and in 1999 he assisted in funding the Vector Laboratory at the Harvard Institute of Human Genetics in Boston.
Mr. Rosenberg was an entrepreneur whose positive attitude, personal intuition and customer focus helped change the business landscape. He has been hailed as a "visionary" by Success magazine, and as "the father of franchising as we know it today," by Nation's Restaurant News, whose publisher Alan Gould in 2001 called Mr. Rosenberg, "one of the most influential and innovative individuals the foodservice industry has ever known."
Mr. Rosenberg embodied the American spirit of hard work and passion. He came of age during the depression and despite a limited education, his hard work and spirit brought wealth and fame enabling him to become a philanthropist in his senior years.
On September 22, 2002, Mr. Rosenberg passed away at the age of 86 at his home on Cape Cod. Mr. Rosenberg is survived by his wife, two sons, daughter, stepdaughter, as well as nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
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Created: February 6, 2011 Modified: February 6, 2011