Owner Casa Ole of Beaumont & Louisiana, Inc. Crazy Jose’s Patio and Cafe (Deceased) – Beaumont, Texas
As a boy, Tom Harken spent a year in an iron lung as a victim of polio. More challenging still was the fact that he grew up illiterate, peddling vacuum cleaners door to door as a young man. With courage, determination, and the loving support of his wife, “Miss Melba,” Tom has confounded those who thought him to be among the least likely to succeed. Today, he owns 11 restaurants and is in great demand as a motivational speaker. His message: “If I can do it, so can you.” In 1992, along with a former Secretary of State, a business tycoon, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and a world-renowned poet, he received the Horatio Alger Award in Washington, D.C. Those “classmates” included Henry Kissinger, Wayne Huizenga, Clarence Thomas and Maya Angelou, among others. In addition to serving as vice president of that association, Mr. Harken serves on the boards of several national and international organizations, including religious, educational, and literacy groups. In over 125 speeches a year, Tom tells his patriotic and upbeat message of overcoming adversity. He has appeared on Good Morning America, Dr. Robert Schuller’s popular Hour of Power television ministry, and the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Old-Time Gospel Hour. Tom was featured on the cover of Parade magazine in 1996. His autobiography, The Millionaire’s Secret: Miss Melba and Me, was published late in 1998, and a movie of his life is in the works.