Born Letitia Pate in 1872 and raised in Thaxton, Va., Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans may be the most generous and most mysterious donor in Georgia Tech’s history. At a young age, Mrs. Evans married Joseph B. Whitehead, the man who conceive the idea of bottling Coca-Cola. Whitehead’s company, The Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company, quickly became successful, to say the least. After Mr. Whitehead’s untimely death in 1906, Mrs. Evans assumed control of the family’s business interests, serving as chairwoman of the board of the Whitehead Holding Co.Her unique position allowed her to gain exceptional business skills, and in 1934, she became the first woman to serve as a director of a major American Corporation, the Coca-Cola Co. She remained on the Board of Directors for nearly 20 years. Among Evans’ many interests was philanthropy towards secondary education and medical welfare. Although Evans had no familial ties or other connections to the university, she recognized the value of the Institute to the Atlanta community. In 1910, she gave her first donation, $5,000, to build a hospital on the Georgia Tech campus, known as the Joseph Brown Whitehead Hospital. Since then, donations from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation have helped sponsor the Center for Rehabilitation Technology’s Satellite Literacy Project; major additions and renovations to various campus buildings, including numerous residence halls, labs, classrooms, the President’s Home, the Library Fountain, and the Whitehead Recreation Area, among others. After her death in 1953, the bulk of Mrs. Evans’ estate was left to her foundation with strict instructions about the use of the income, which is divided up among 11 principal beneficiaries in Virginia and Georgia. Her total contributions to the Institute constitute more than $327 million.
- First Female Member of the The Coca-Cola Company's Board of Directors
- Since her death, the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation has donated over $327 million to the Institute
- Trustee of Emory University, Agnes Scott College, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the American Hospital of Paris