Lettie Pate Whitehead was born
Letitia Pate in Bedford County, Virginia, in 1872. She was educated at private
schools in Bedford and Lynchburg. In 1895, she married Joseph Brown Whitehead,
a young attorney, and they made their home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mr.
and Mrs. Whitehead had two sons, Joseph B., Jr. and Conkey Pate.
In 1899, Mr. Whitehead and an
associate approached The Coca-Cola Company with the idea of bottling Coca-Cola,
a fountain beverage then growing in popularity in the South. The two entrepreneurs
secured an exclusive contract to bottle and sell Coca-Cola throughout most
of the United States. Mr. Whitehead and his family moved to Atlanta in 1903
to further develop the Coca-Cola bottling business. It prospered, and Mr.
and Mrs. Whitehead quickly became business, church and civic leaders in Atlanta.
Mr. Whitehead died in 1906 at
the age of 42. Mrs. Whitehead immediately assumed responsibility for the family's
business affairs, overseeing not only the expansion of the Coca-Cola bottling
business, but also the family's real estate investments. She served as Chairman
of the Board of the Whitehead Holding Company and President of the Whitehead
Realty Company. Mrs. Whitehead became one of the first women to serve on the
board of directors of a major American corporation, serving as director of
The Coca-Cola Company for almost twenty years beginning in 1934.
Seven years after Mr. Whitehead's
death, Mrs. Whitehead married Colonel Arthur Kelly Evans, a retired Canadian
army officer. She and Col. Evans made their principal residence in Hot Springs,
Virginia, where she became active in cultural and civic affairs.
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans felt
a keen sense of duty to those in need. A gracious and generous woman, she
contributed to numerous charities during her lifetime. Her philanthropies
in Georgia included major gifts to Agnes Scott College, Berry College, Emory
University, Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Tallulah Falls School and
Georgia Institute of Technology. She served as a trustee of Emory University
and Agnes Scott College.
In Virginia, she gave generously
to the College of William and Mary, Washington and Lee University, Episcopal
Theological Seminary, Episcopal High School, Hot Springs Valley Nursing Association,
Protestant Episcopal Church Home, Boys Home in Covington, Old Customshouse
in Yorktown and Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. She served as a trustee
of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.
Her benevolence extended also
to England and France. She made personal donations to the Queen's Fund for
air raid victims during World War II, furnished ambulances for the French,
and served on the board of the American Hospital in Paris.
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans survived
both of her sons and her second husband. Her older son, influenced by his
mother's generosity, created the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation as a memorial
to his father. Before her death in 1953, she established the Lettie Pate Evans
Foundation. Through the benevolence of those two foundations and the Lettie
Pate Whitehead Foundation, charitable institutions and individuals continue
to benefit from the extraordinary legacy of Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans.