George Culver, co-founder of the Culver's restaurant franchise, died Thursday at the age of 88. Culver began his career in food service with his wife, Ruth, by opening an A&W restaurant in Sauk City in 1961. After years in food service and ownership of multiple restaurants, he founded the first Culver's restaurant in 1984 with son, Craig, who today is chief executive of the company. The chain has since stretched across 19 states and includes 435 restaurants. "George never compromised on quality," said Phil Keiser, president and chief operating officer, in a statement. "He made sure each product was made with quality ingredients and cooked exactly to order. . . . It was the perfect blend that set the standard for the way Culver's does things today." His wife, Ruth Culver, died in 2008. George Culver's other son, Curt, is chairman and CEO of Milwaukee-based MGIC Investment Corp., the nation's largest private mortgage insurer. George Culver's wife, Ruth, died in 2008.