, Port Arthur, Texas

July 11, 2013

Tom Harken, founder of Casa Ole, dies

The Port Arthur News

— Tom Harken, founder of Casa Ole restaurants, has died.

Harken, known as “Poppee,” died Wednesday, at Methodist Hospital in Houston.

According to the website My Own Business, Tom Harken is founder, chairman and CEO of Tom Harken and Associates, Beaumont. His patriotic and upbeat message is, “If I can do it, so can you.” Harken, who suffered childhood illness, grew up illiterate and peddled vacuum cleaners door to door knows all about overcoming adversity. He told his inspiring story during numerous speeches throughout the years helping thousands of all ages are motivated to live fuller lives, get an education, dream the American dream, excel and attain their highest goals. He has appeared on Good Morning America and in Parade Magazine, CBS News with Dan Rather, Guideposts for Kids and Investor's Business Daily, and more.

Owner of 13 restaurants with over 600 employees, and known affectionately as “Poppee” and “Mr. Casa Ole” by thousands who view his family-oriented television commercials, Harken served on several national boards including vice president of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the Peale Center's National Advisory Cabinet and the Literacy Volunteers of America.

Funeral arrangements are pending with Claybar Kelley-Watkins in Beaumont.