In 1899, Mr. Joseph Brown Whitehead and a business partner secured an exclusive contract to bottle and sell Coca-Cola throughout most of the United States. Joseph and his wife, Letitia Pate Whitehead, moved their family 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.
After Joseph’s death in 1906 at the age of 42, Letitia 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 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.
Lettie Pate 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 included numerous institutions in Georgia and Virginia, including Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the College of William and Mary, and Washington and Lee University. She served as a trustee for Emory University and for Agnes Scott College.
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans survived both of her sons and her second husband, Colonel Arthur Evans. Influenced by the philanthropic examples of his parents, Conkey Pate Whitehead, the oldest son of Joseph and Letitia Pate Whitehead, provided in his will for the creation of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation as a memorial to his mother. The Foundation was chartered in 1946 for the aid and benefit of poor and needy Christian girls and women in nine specified states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The Foundation provides scholarship grants to schools and colleges for deserving female students. Annual grants are made to accredited educational institutions in nine states to fund scholarships for the education of Christian women who reside in one of the specific states. More than 200 institutions participate annually in the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship program.