By Press Release Submitted to Published May 21, 2024 at 1:02 PM

William F. Specht, the visionary founder of Cousins Subs®, passed away on May 9, 2024, at the age of 80.

Known for his entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to excellence and commitment to community service, Specht leaves behind a legacy that deeply impacted both the business world and the communities he served.

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on April 5, 1944, William Specht's journey to entrepreneurship was marked by hard work and determination. After serving in the Navy as a torpedoman on the USS Huntington, Specht pursued his dream of bringing east coast-style sub sandwiches to Milwaukee. In 1972, he founded Cousins Subs alongside his cousin James Sheppard, laying the foundation for what would become a beloved Wisconsin institution.

Under Specht's leadership, Cousins Subs flourished, driven by a commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. He attributed the brand's success to its delicious sandwiches, built on the foundation of fresh-baked bread, and the dedication of its employees. Even in retirement, Specht remained actively involved in the company, ensuring its values and commitment to excellence endured.

Beyond his business endeavors, Specht was deeply passionate about giving back to the community. To formalize the brand’s giving efforts, he established the Make It Better Foundation in 2013, which continues to support initiatives aimed at improving health and wellness, reducing hunger and enhancing youth education.

"My dad’s impact extended far beyond the business world," said Christine Specht, CEO of Cousins Subs and daughter of William Specht. "He was a loving father, dedicated husband and cherished mentor to many. His legacy will continue to inspire us as we strive to uphold the values he held dear."

"I've known Bill for over 40 years, collaborating closely with him for more than 30,” said Maria Piotter, longtime Cousins Subs franchisee. “During that time, I witnessed his deep passion for the brand he created. Bill was always curious, constantly seeking insights to ensure the success of Cousins Subs. His dedication to providing quality food to all our guests was unmatched and will forever be a cherished part of Cousins Subs."

In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Specht was an avid golfer and card player, known for his competitive spirit and love of the game. He cherished time spent with family and friends, particularly his grandchildren, who brought him endless joy and laughter.

To honor William F. Specht's legacy and lifelong dedication to giving back, donations can be made to the Make It Better Foundation. Those interested in contributing can send a check payable to the "Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation" to:

Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation
Attn: Kristen Tracy
N83 W13400 Leon Rd.
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051