published Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The Lupton Legacy

* Coke bottling consolidation. As head of JTL Corp., Mr. Lupton grew his bottling empire through acquisitions and mergers before selling it to the Coca-Cola Co. for $1.2 billion in 1986, in a move that paved the way for widespread consolidation in the soft drink bottling industry.

* Focused philanthropy. Through his family’s Lyndhurst Foundation, Mr. Lupton shifted giving to a more proactive, targeted mission, rather than just reacting to funding requests. Chattanooga Venture, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, the Riverbend Festival and RiverCity Co. were outgrowths of that strategy to transform local planning, housing, entertainment and downtown development.

* Hometown pride. Although he traveled the world as head of JTL Corp., Mr. Lupton turned his attention and philanthropy to Chattanoga after selling his business. He donated his own money and encouraged others to give to local causes.

* Five Nights in Chattanooga. In 1981, Mr. Lupton helped fund a downtown outdoor concert by B.B. King that helped lead to the creation of the Riverbend Festival the next year.

* Tennessee Aquarium. He led the $45 million fundraising campaign to open the world’s largest freshwater aquarium in 1992. The aquarium spawned restoration of the riverfront and Walnut Street Bridge and other downtown attractions including the Creative Discovery Museum, the IMAX Theater and the Visitors Center.

* University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He donated $25 million to UTC in 2001, which helped add the SimCenter, new dorms and expanded curriculum

* The Honors Course. With his financial support and guidance, 420 acres of Ooltewah farmland was converted in 1983 into one of the nation’s top golf courses by Hall of Fame architect Pete Dye. The course has hosted many amateur tournaments including the USGA Men’s Amateur and Mid-Amateur Championships, the Curtis Cup Matches, and the NCAA Men’s Div. I Championship.

John T. Lupton

Personal: Born July 23, 1926, he was the grandson of one of three men who bought the original bottling rights for Coca-Cola. He graduated from Baylor School, attended the University of North Carolina and served in the U.S. Navy in World War II before marrying Alice Probasco Lupton in 1948. He is survived by his wife, Alice, four children, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Business: He began his Coke bottling career in Macon, Ga., for two years before he returned to Chattanooga to join the business with his father, Cartter. Upon his father’s death in 1977, he formed JTL Corp., and through acquisitions became the largest Coca-Cola bottling business in the 1980s. He sold JTL for $1.2 billion to Coca-Cola, which spun off the bottling operation into Coca-Cola Enterprises, in 1986. He served as a director of Dixie Yarns, Volunteer Life Insurance Co., and the Coca-Cola Co.

Boards: He served as chairman of Baylor School, the University of Chattanooga Foundation and the Honors Course and was president of Boys’ Club. He was a director for RiverCity Co., the Tennessee Aquarium and Erlanger Hospital.

Quotes

“We would not be the city we are today without him. I don’t think there is any doubt that what we call the renaissance of Chattanooga came about because he made a decision that he wanted to invest in changing our community and he really did in many different ways.” Fomer City Council Member Mai Bell Hurley.

“Jack Lupton had big ideas for Chattanooga and for Tennessee and his remarkable generosity helped make those dreams come true.” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who as governor in the 1980s urged Mr. Lupton to pursue the aquarium project

“He could make things happen and he was always a friend to me. He helped bring the community together to rename 9th Street in honor of Martin Luther King.” Napoleon “Donut” Williams, retired Chattanooga police officer

“I don’t think anyone can question the sincerity and the purity of his intention to do something substantial for Chattanooga. He asked us to help him doing something substantial to leave to Chattanooga and he certainly did.” Former Hamilton County Executive Dalton Roberts

“He never left the Lyndhurst Foundation when he retired (in 1992) and won’t leave the foundation now that he has died. He is an ever present spirit and his legacy will live on.” Jack Murrah, former president of the Lyndhurst Foundation

“Everything he did he tried to do it right and do it the best. He expected that from everybody involved and he hoped that the city he loved and worked for would achieve that.” Bill Sudderth, president of Chattanooga Land Co., which Mr. Lupton helped start

“Jack Lupton was a giant of a man. He was both a mentor and a friend to me and I will miss him greatly.” U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

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