It was true love in 2006 that culminated in Kim and Chris Fowler’s marriage after a two-week engagement. Since then, the Jonesboro couple has overseen their Fowler Foods Inc., an empire of nearly 100 Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell restaurants in eight states. And the Fowlers have made Arkansas Children’s Hospital a beneficiary of their success, donating more than $1 million to the hospital and holding annual fundraising events centered on watching the Kentucky Derby horse race each May.
The two almost didn’t get together. Both had been divorced and were leery of meeting new people. Friends pushed for them to meet, however, and the two hit it off. Their union, like the merger of KFC and Taco Bell into single restaurants, was very successful.
In August 2018, Chris and Kim gave $750,000 to the Arkansas Children’s Foundation to build an 8,000-square-foot children’s clinic near the Jonesboro downtown. The clinic has full-time specialists, an audiology laboratory and respiratory testing center, a pediatric audiologist and a facility for speech, physical and occupational therapy. The goal, Kim said, was to make pediatric care more accessible for those living in northeast Arkansas. Rather than driving more than two hours to Little Rock, children could get needed care in Jonesboro.
The Fowlers also donated $250,000 to the foundation to create the Fowler Diagnostic Center in 2015 and have supported other medical venues such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and the NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jonesboro.
Whether it’s running their $60 million-a-year food company or raising and donating money for children’s health care, the Fowlers have become a landmark for their work in northeast Arkansas.