Culver's community grieves death of president and CEO Phil Keiser

Phil Keiser, Culver's president and CEO, passed away of natural causes on Oct. 15, 2016. Having worked for Culver's for 20 years, he was the leader of more than 20,000 team members at 580 Culver's locations in 24 states, said a release from the company. He was 60 years old.

Keiser had more than 35 years of food industry and strategic restaurant management experience. He joined the Culver's organization in 1996 and held several positions, including director of operations and vice president of operations, before being named president and chief operating officer in 2003. He was named president and chief executive officer in 2015. Prior to joining Culver's, he held various management positions with Burger Chef and Hardee's.

A native of Nappanee, Ind., and a strong advocate of education and community involvement, Keiser was a member of the Manchester University Board of Trustees, the Sauk Prairie Health Care Board of Directors and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Board of Directors.

Co-founder Craig Culver will assume the role of interim CEO until a successor is named.

"Culver's would not be what it is today without Phil's influence," Craig said. "Yet as great a loss as this is for us professionally, it doesn't begin to touch how much Phil will be missed on a personal level. We hurt most deeply for his wife Betsy, and his children: son Nate, wife Bethany and their children Caprina, Linea and Landon; son Nick, wife Maria and their child Harper; and daughter Kelsey."

"Craig will continue to lead Culver's with the same core values and strategic priorities Phil embraced," said the news release.