Albert S. (Bert) Thornton was born in New Orleans, LA in 1945 and grew up in Tampa, Florida. He played football at T. R. Robinson High School, where he was President of the Student Body and attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a full football scholarship. Bert was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Georgia Tech and graduated in 1968.
Bert served two years as an artillery officer in the United States Army and served one tour with the 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery in South Vietnam.
Upon separation from the service, he worked as a systems analyst and salesman in NCR’s IT Division, and in 1971, Bert joined Waffle House as a manager trainee. Four years later, he became a Vice President. In 1994, he was elected to the Board of Directors. For over 40 years, Bert worked with both Company and Franchise Operations in Waffle House and in 2004 was named President and Chief Operations Officer of Waffle House, Inc. Today, he is the retired Vice Chairman Emeritus of Waffle House.
Bert is also very active at Georgia Tech, serving from 1996-2000 as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Trustees. In 1999 he chaired Tech’s highly successful $7.8 million dollar annual giving “Roll Call” initiative, and was named President of the Alumni Association in 2001 and 2002. He has been a member of the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees since 2001 where he has served on the Finance, Development and Stewardship Committees. In 2016 Bert received the Joseph Mayo Pettit Alumni Distinguished Service Award, the highest award conferred by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.
Bert is a member of the board of directors of The Studer Community Institute in Pensacola, Florida and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of West Florida, College of Business- Center for Entrepreneurship.
Bert also has an Advisory Board role with The Museum School of Avondale Estates, a charter public elementary-middle school in DeKalb County, Georgia. He is a former trustee of the school and was honorary chair for The Museum School’s successful 5 million dollar expansion capital campaign.
He is the author of two books: Find an Old Gorilla: Pathways Through the Jungles of Business and Life- a self-mentoring handbook for the development of emerging leaders and High Impact Mentoring: A Practical Guide for Creating Value in Other People’s Lives (co-authored with Dr. Sherry Hartnett), available in Fall 2021.
Bert lives in Perdido Key, Florida with his wife, Kathy, who devotes her time to several “not for profit” organizations. Kathy and Bert have three daughters: Aspen, Chaice, and Mayson. All three girls are very successful graduates of Georgia Tech and members of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.