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Dave Thomas, the founder and folksy commercial spokesman for the Wendy's fast-food chain, has received a high school equivalency diploma 45 years after dropping out of high school.

Mr. Thomas, who developed the restaurant chain into a $3.6 billion-a-year business, received his diploma at a special ceremony at Coconut Creek High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he lives.

The businessman, 60, left school at 15 to work in restaurants.

Passing the seven-hour test, Mr. Thomas said, was "one of the most important accomplishments'' of his life.

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