Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans

Last updated
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans
Letitia Pate

(1872-02-21)February 21, 1872
DiedNovember 14, 1953(1953-11-14) (aged 81)
Joseph Brown Whitehead
(m. 1895;his death 1906)

Arthur Kelly Evans
(m. 1913)
ChildrenJoseph Brown Whitehead Jr.
Conkey Pate Whitehead
Parent(s)Cornelius Pate
Elizabeth Stagg Pate

Letitia "Lettie" Pate Whitehead Evans (February 21, 1872 in Bedford County, Virginia November 14, 1953 in Hot Springs, Virginia) was an American businesswoman and philanthropist. She was the first woman to be on Coca-Cola's board of directors.


Early life

Lettie was born in Bedford County, Virginia to Cornelius Pate and Elizabeth Stagg Pate, [1] Lettie enjoyed private education and other luxuries afforded to a member of one of Virginia's most established families.

Personal life

She married Joseph Brown Whitehead, an attorney, in 1895, and the couple moved to Chattanooga shortly thereafter. They had two sons, Joseph Brown Whitehead, Jr., and Conkey Pate Whitehead.

The Whiteheads' successful business careers began in 1899, when Joseph Whitehead and an associate approached The Coca-Cola Company with the idea of bottling their beverages. The company granted Joseph Whitehead and his associate an exclusive contract. The Whitehead family moved to Atlanta in 1903 in order to expand their thriving bottling business. Lettie and Joseph Whitehead soon became business and community leaders in the area.

In 1906, Joseph Brown Whitehead unexpectedly died from pneumonia while on a trip visiting Lettie's parents. Lettie, age 34 and with two young sons (Joseph Jr. and Conkey), immediately took over the family's business affairs and real estate assets. She assumed leadership of the Whitehead Holding Company and Whitehead Realty Company, and actively managed the bottling operation (then 80 plants), eventually with her sons' assistance.

Second marriage

Lettie remarried to Colonel Arthur Kelly Evans, a retired Canadian Army officer, in 1913. They made their home in Hot Springs, Virginia.

In 1919, the Woodruff family purchased Coca-Cola from Asa Candler, and Robert Woodruff as its president came to work closely with Lettie, who had been president of the bottling company since she was 36. In 1934, Lettie sold the bottling operation (which by then had grown to over 1,000 bottling plants) back to the Coca-Cola Company in exchange for stock. [2] She was appointed to the Coca-Cola Company's Board of Directors. She was one of the first women to serve on the board of directors for any major American corporation, and remained on the board for more than two decades. [3]


Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building.jpg
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building

Lettie donated millions of dollars to more than 130 different organizations during her lifetime, particularly in Virginia and Georgia. [3] Since her sons were financially well off, in 1945 she established the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, which received her entire estate upon her death eight years later. Thus, between donations in her lifetime and those of the foundation, charitable organizations have received over a billion dollars under her auspices.

Evans was a devout Episcopalian, and gave generously to the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia which was formed in 1919 and encompassed both her hometown and residence after her sons were grown. [4] She also donated generously to the Virginia Theological Seminary which in 1998 established an award to honor lay church leaders in her name. [5]

Evans served as a trustee of Emory University, Agnes Scott College, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the American Hospital of Paris. She donated significantly to the Georgia Institute of Technology (whose administration building shown above is named for her), as well as Berry College, the College of William and Mary, Washington and Lee University, and Bruton Parish in Williamsburg and many other educational and religious institutions. [6]


A plaque near the front doors of Tech Tower describes the building's eponymous benefactor. TechTowerPlaque01.jpg
A plaque near the front doors of Tech Tower describes the building's eponymous benefactor.

Lettie survived both her husbands and her two sons. In memorial upon her death the Coca-Cola Board noted that "Endowed with material things, she had a conviction that she held them as trustee for the poor, the meek and the unfortunate." [6] Her oldest son, influenced by Lettie's generosity, created the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation as a memorial to his father. [7] A special collection in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University holds many of Lettie's papers and writings. Several academic buildings are named in her honor, including the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Administration Building at Georgia Tech, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Hall and Evans School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Berry College, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Graduate Housing Complex at the College of William and Mary, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Residence Hall at Emory University, and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Dining Hall at Agnes Scott College. [8]

The building of a central office for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, known as Evans Diocesan House, was made possible by a generous[ clarification needed ] gift from Lettie, then a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hot Springs, Virginia.[ citation needed ] Later renovations were also supported by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation. Her portrait continues to hang in the reception area of the building, located in Roanoke, Virginia. [9]

Her home near Hot Springs, Virginia, Malvern Hall, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Coca-Cola Carbonated soft drink

Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally marketed as a temperance drink and intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.

Asa Griggs Candler American mayor and businessman

Asa Griggs Candler was an American business tycoon who purchased the Coca-Cola Company for USD1,750 from chemist John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia in 1892 and developed it as a major company.

Roberto Goizueta American chief executive

Roberto Críspulo Goizueta Cantera was Chairman, Director, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Coca-Cola Company from August 1980 until his death in October 1997.

Robert W. Woodruff President of Coca-Cola

Robert Winship Woodruff was the president of The Coca-Cola Company from 1923 until 1954. With a large net worth, he was also a major philanthropist, and many educational and cultural landmarks in the U.S. city of Atlanta, Georgia, bear his name. Included among these are the Woodruff Arts Center, Woodruff Park, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library.

John Thomas Lupton American lawyer and businessman

John Thomas Lupton (1862–1933) was an American lawyer, industrialist and philanthropist who along with Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead, obtained exclusive rights from Asa Candler to bottle and sell Coca-Cola.

Donald Keough American businessman

Donald Raymond Keough was an Irish-American businessman and Chairman of the Board of Allen & Company LLC, a New York investment banking firm. He was elected to that position in April 1993.

Ernest Woodruff was an important businessman in the U.S. city of Atlanta.

George W. Woodruff American businessman and engineer

George Waldo Woodruff was an engineer, businessman, and philanthropist in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1917 and gave generously to both his alma mater and Emory University, including what was at the time the single largest donation ever to a school, $105 million to Emory University in 1979.

Benjamin Franklin Thomas (1860–1914) was a Chattanooga, Tennessee, businessman and industrialist who pioneered the development of the Coca-Cola bottling industry and founded the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Boisfeuillet Jones was an American educator and president of several philanthropic organizations in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant United States historic place

The Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant, also known as Baptist Student Center, Georgia State University or Baptist Student Union, Georgia State University, is a historic building at 125 Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. Built in 1891, it was the headquarters and bottling plant of the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company, and the place where the transition from Coca-Cola as a drink served at a soda fountain to a mass-marketed bottled soft drink took place. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1983, and is one of the only buildings in Atlanta dating to Coca-Cola's early history. Since 1966 the building has been the Baptist Student Union for Georgia State University.

History of Emory University

The History of Emory University began in 1836 with a small group of Methodists from Newton County contemplated the establishment of a new town and college. The town was called Oxford after the school's prestigious British cousin, which graduated the two founders of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. The college was named after John Emory, an American Methodist bishop who inspired people .

Beverley D. Tucker 19th and 20th-century American Episcopal bishop

Beverley Dandridge Tucker was the second bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, and four of his sons also distinguished themselves within the Episcopal Church.

Joseph Brown Whitehead (1864–1906) was a lawyer, who, along with Benjamin Thomas and John Thomas Lupton, obtained exclusive rights from Asa Candler to bottle and sell Coca-Cola.

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center United States historic place

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community arts center that offers classes and workshops for all ages in visual, literary and performing arts. Special performances, gallery exhibits, outreach programs and fundraising galas are presented throughout the year. Callanwolde is also involved in community outreach, specializing in senior wellness, special needs, veterans, and low income families.

Joseph Whitehead may refer to:

Fixed price of Coca-Cola from 1886 to 1959

Between 1886 and 1959, the price of a 6.5-oz glass or bottle of Coca-Cola was set at five cents, or one nickel, and remained fixed with very little local fluctuation. The Coca-Cola Company was able to maintain this price for several reasons, including bottling contracts the company signed in 1899, advertising, vending machine technology, and a relatively low rate of inflation. The fact that the price of the drink was able to remain the same for over seventy years is especially significant considering the events that occurred during that period, including the founding of Pepsi, World War I, Prohibition, changing taxes, a caffeine and caramel shortage, World War II, and the company's desire to raise its prices. Much of the research on this subject comes from "The Real Thing": Nominal Price Rigidity of the Nickel Coke, 1886–1959, a 2004 paper by economists Daniel Levy and Andrew Young.

Joseph A. Biedenharn American businessman and philanthropist

Joseph Augustus Biedenharn was an American businessman and confectioner credited in the summer of 1894 with having first bottled the soda fountain drink, Coca-Cola, at his wholesale candy company building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As he expanded this business, he created a model of bottling-distributor franchises and built his company through this state, as well as Louisiana and Texas.

Barton Lodge United States historic place

Barton Lodge, also known as Malvern Hall and French House, is a historic home located near Hot Springs, Bath County, Virginia. It was built in 1898-1900, and is a 2 1/2-story, five bay, double pile, Classical Revival style frame dwelling. It features a hipped roof with two hipped-roofed dormers on the north and south elevations and a temple front featuring a pedimented portico supported by Corinthian order columns. It has a one-story, flat-roofed, four-bay west wing. The house is situated on French's Hill overlooking The Homestead. Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans (1872-1953) purchased Barton Lodge in October 1927, and renamed it Malvern Hall. Subsequent to her death in 1953, her Foundation made a gift of the Malvern Hall property in 1961 to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hot Springs.

Charles Howard Candler Sr. was an American businessman and author. He was one of the few people that his father, Asa Candler, first trusted with the secret-at the time-formula used to make Coca-Cola, which, at the time, included coca leaves.


  1. Pate Lee, Jinks. "Re: Lettie (Letitia) Pate". Pate Family Genealogy Forum.
  2. http://www.dioswva.org/about/our_history.html
  3. 1 2 "Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Biography". Lettie Pate Evans Foundation. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  4. http://www.dioswva.org/about/our_history.html
  5. http://www.vts.edu/lettiepateaward
  6. 1 2 "Lettie Pate Evans". Georgia Women of Achievement Honorees. Georgia Women of Achievement. Retrieved 2007-02-04.[ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Lettie Pate Whitehead Biography". Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-11-02. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  8. "Graduate Housing". Resident Life. The College of William and Mary. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  9. Brown, Katharine L (1979). Hills of the Lord. Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.
  10. "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 2/04/13 through 2/08/13. National Park Service. 2014-01-03.