John T. 'Jack' Lupton

John T. 'Jack' Lupton

May 18th, 2010 in Opinion Free Press

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John T. Lupton, widely known simply as "Jack," was surely one of our community's most progress-minded citizens and beneficial transformers of Chattanooga in modern times.

Mr. Lupton, who died Sunday at the age of 83, left countless prominently recognized -- and many unknown but constructive -- marks on the community that he loved and served tremendously over many years.

Retiring by nature in some respects, but quite forceful in other ways when he sought to drive his idealistic purposes for our community's progress, he was a major force in the development of Chattanooga throughout his generation.

Mr. Lupton became a most outstanding member of a most outstanding extended family.

Chattanooga businessmen Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead were far-sighted enough in 1899 to obtain from Atlantan Asa Candler the bottling rights for Coca-Cola, which until then had been limited to fountain service. The Chattanoogans then were joined by Jack Lupton's grandfather, John T. Lupton, to finance their Chattanooga-based Coca-Cola bottling enterprise -- opening in Chattanooga the world's first Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Over the years and through Lupton family leadership, the local company spread its bottling franchises to become the largest Coca-Cola bottling empire in the world during the 1970s and 1980s.

Chattanooga's original Coca-Cola Lupton interests were succeeded by T. Cartter Lupton, son of John T. Lupton.

Cartter Lupton became one of our community's most generous, but quietest, philanthropists. He was admiringly known for his many good works as "Mr. Anonymous."

His son, Jack, attended The Baylor School, where he was captain of the swimming team and also was a varsity letterman in football, basketball and baseball. Jack graduated from Baylor in 1944, in the midst of World War II. He joined the Navy and served honorably in the South Pacific in PT boats until the war ended.

After World War II, he entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to major in business administration.

He entered Coca-Cola operations in Macon, Ga., learning the bottling business from bottle-washer up.

He later was involved in the textile business in Chattanooga with Dixie Yarns, but joined the family's locally based Coca-Cola firm in 1954, when his father, Cartter Lupton, became ill.

Jack became the head of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottling franchise operations after his father's death.

In 1986, Jack Lupton sold his Coca-Cola interests to the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. for $1.2 billion.

He subsequently centered his interests on extensive philanthropy. His generosity was quietly expressed in many ways through the Lyndhurst Foundation.

In 2001, he donated $25 million to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to enlarge and improve the university's educational facilities and opportunities.

Mr. Lupton electrified Chattanoogans when he said he would devote $20 million toward the development of Chattanooga's Tennessee River area. Mr. Lupton's constructive philanthropy through his Lyndhurst Foundation was widespread and diversified.

He was most widely known for his vision, followed his by constructive action.

He anticipated what the development of the world-class Chattanooga Aquarium on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga could do for the entire community economically and otherwise.

The Chattanooga Aquarium has attracted countless admiring downtown visitors, and has inspired extended scenic and economic developments on both sides of the Tennessee River.

He also had a dream for the development of the Riverwalk between downtown Chattanooga and Chickamauga Dam.

He foresaw the many economic and entertainment advantages of bringing famed musicians to Chattanooga each year for the Riverbend Festival, to be enjoyed by countless Chattanoogans and attracting many visitors. It has become a major summer attraction in the heart of the city.

A golfer himself, Mr. Lupton also was the enterprising founder of golf's Honors Course, one of the most outstanding courses in the world. Because of his vision, many noted amateur golfers have come here to play annually, and have gone on to international fame.

Mr. Lupton also energized countless other community developments through his personal enterprise and his philanthropic Lyndhurst Foundation.

Jack Lupton was married to Alice Probasco in 1948, and she joined him in many of their constructive community interests.

Their children are Thomas Cartter Lupton, Alice Lupton Smith, Catherine Lupton Crosland and Margaret Lupton Gerber.

Mr. Lupton was a member of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain.

Many extended members of Jack Lupton's family, inspired by him and his family predecessors, have joined and followed Mr. Lupton's many examples of admirable contributions to the community which he loved, and which he served so unselfishly and remarkably in many unique ways over so many years.