Fred DeLuca, co-founder of Milford-based Subway, has died at the age of 67.

DeLuca and his business partner Dr. Peter Buck, opened their submarine sandwich shop in Connecticut in 1965 when DeLuca was only 17 years old.

In 2013 while doing what he loved best, traveling around to visit with franchisees, DeLuca fell ill and was ultimately diagnosed with Leukemia. Since that time he had been receiving treatments and still overseeing the brand as CEO but recently named his sister, Suzanne Greco, as president to run the day to day operations, according to a posting on the Subway website.

DeLuca was an active member of the International Franchise Association, a recipient of numerous awards and accolades. He was a supporter of many charitable organizations focused mainly on those that promoted self-sufficiency and education programs.

Over the years, the SUBWAY restaurant chain was often named the Number One Franchise opportunity by Entrepreneur magazine in its Annual "Franchise 500" rankings.

DeLuca was an extremely ambitious businessman, a bright and analytical thinker and was even a member of Mensa, the Subway website states.

"DeLuca leaves behind his wife, sister, son and members of his extended family - the thousands of team members that make up the SUBWAY® brand all over the world. He was always very proud of the work of his HQ staff and thousands of developers, franchisees, Sandwich Artists, suppliers and partners who he often and affectionately called, 'The Greatest Team in Franchising," the website states.