Peter Buck — a nuclear physicist who lent his friend’s son $1,000 to start a sandwich shop in 1965 and became a billionaire as it grew into the giant Subway Restaurants chain — has died, The Post has learned.
Buck, who according to sources had been ill for some time, was 90, a Subway spokesperson confirmed.
That means both co-founders of the 56 year-old chain have passed. Fred DeLuca, who as a teenager had taken Buck’s loan and turned a single shop in Bridgeport, Conn. into one of the world’s biggest fast-food empires, ran Subway almost until the time he died of leukemia in 2015.
The chain’s corporate parent is called Doctor’s Associates, in reference to Buck, who earned a doctorate in physics. By 1973, the duo had 16 locations throughout Connecticut and, in 1974, they began franchising the chain, Subway said.
What had started as a business venture to help the young DeLuca pay for college became a chain that currently operates nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide.
Buck’s net worth is estimated by Forbes at $1.7 billion. Buck used some of his fortune to buy timberland. He owned 1.2 million miles of forest in Maine, Subway said. Over the past five years, Buck has donated $216 million toward his PCLB Foundation, which supports organizations that focus on family issues, according to Forbes.
Buck leaves behind his sons Christopher and William, daughters-in-law April and Hara, and grandchildren Sam, Emily, Oliver, Simon and James.
Buck was believed to share 50-50 ownership of Subway with DeLuca’s widow Elisabeth.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of one of Subway’s founders, Dr. Peter Buck,” Subway Chief Executive John Chidsey said in a statement. “He was a shining example of a dedicated, hands-on leader, and an integral member of the Subway family.”
Buck was born on Dec. 19, 1930, in South Portland, Maine. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1952, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in physics at Columbia University.