Skip navigation
Cousins-Subs-William-Specht.jpg Cousins Subs
William Specht, co-founder of Cousins Subs, dies at 80.

William Specht, co-founder of Cousins Subs, dies at 80

Services are scheduled at 6 p.m. CDT Thursday at Grace Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, Wis.

William F. Specht, co-founder of Cousins Subs, died Thursday, May 9, in Menomonee Falls, Wis., after declining health. He was 80.

Services are planned for 6 p.m. CDT Thursday, May 16, at Grace Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls. A visitation will also be Thursday at 3 p.m. CDT until the time of the service.

Specht was born April 5, 1944, in Atlanta City, N.J., to William F. Specht and Mary L. Sheppard. The oldest of four children, Specht worked early on as a blueprint maker and clammer.

He enlisted in the Navy in January 1963 and was trained to be a torpedoman on the USS Huntington, a destroyer He was based in Mayport, Fla.

While in the Navy, he met Sandra, and they were married in December 1964. After an honorable discharge in 1967, he moved to Milwaukee and worked in the printing industry.

After he was laid off, Specht invited his cousin, James Sheppard, to move to Milwaukee as his partner. They started Cousins Subs in 1972, with a name suggested by Specht’s wife, Sandra.

Specht credited the brand’s sandwiches and its employees for Cousins Subs’ success.

“He really valued the contributions his employees, franchisees and vendors made to the company,” Specht’s formal obituary said. “Even in retirement, he would visit stores, talk with franchisees, meet with support center staff, and speak to the restaurant general managers. In any of those conversations his belief in doing what was right for the brand was always at the center, making sure the teams would stay focused on quality and our guests.”

Specht and Sheppard established the Make It Better Foundation to reduce hunger, improve health and wellness, and increase the quality of youth education.

Specht joined the North Hills Country Club in 1982 and developed a love for golf. During the winter, he would travel to Tequesta, Fla., for warm weather and more golf.

Specht is survived by his wife, Sandra; children William (Bill Jr.), Fredrick Specht, and Christine Ann Specht-Palmert; and grandchildren, Reagan William Palmert and Harrison John Palmert.

Donations can be made to the Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation or Grace Lutheran Church, Menomonee Falls.

Cousins Subs is based in Menomonee Falls and has about 100 units in Wisconsin and Indiana.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on X/Twitter: @RonRuggless

TAGS: People
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.