The late businessman Herman Cain may have made a splash most recently as a Republican presidential candidate, but he also boasted a decades-long business career with the Pillsbury Company and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
News of Cain's death after contracting coronavirus came Thursday. He was 74.
Cain was a staunch defender of capitalism and the entrepreneurial spirit who got his start at the historically Black, all-male Morehouse College. He graduated with a mathematics degree in 1967.
Cain joined the U.S. Navy as a civilian systems analyst before going back to school, earning his master's in computer science from Purdue University in 1971.
His first job in the corporate world was at Coca-Cola, but he didn't stay too long, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica. He joined Pillsbury in 1977 and was quickly promoted to vice president of corporate systems and services.
Cain earned his reputation as a businessman during his time with Pillsbury. Cain is credited with reviving the Burger King franchise as well as pulling Godfather's Pizza out of bankruptcy, according to Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Cain was deputy chairman and later chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in the 1990s.
"There are generally three kinds of people in the world. People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say, what in the heck happened," Cain once said.
Cain resurfaced in the news cycle when Trump floated nominating him for Federal Reserve chairman. Cain was co-chairman of Black Voices for Trump.
Admirers including Cain's former presidential campaign communications director, Ellen Carmichael, weighed in on his legacy on Thursday.
"His American Dream story is one for the history books. Overcame absolute destitution, genuine discrimination, stage IV cancer and so much hardship in between. Rose up the ranks of America's biggest corporations, advised presidential campaigns, chaired a Federal Reserve bank," Carmichael wrote on Twitter.
"Herman Cain was an inspiration to me to leave my business for the Senate, and a voice for all who are fed up with business as usual in D.C.," Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., wrote on Twitter. "Cain’s message to the private sector was his message to all Americans: don’t put up with the status quo, get in the ring and change it."