Philanthropist Jack Lupton Dies At 83

Inheritor Of Coca-Cola Bottling Fortune Left Large Chattanooga Legacy

Sunday, May 16, 2010
Jack Lupton
Jack Lupton

Philanthropist John Thomas "Jack" Lupton died Sunday at the age of 83.

Mr. Lupton, who inherited a Coca-Cola bottling fortune, left a large legacy in Chattanooga, including helping to found the Tennessee Aquarium and building the Honors Golf Course in Ooltewah.

He has been in ill health for a number of years after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Mr. Lupton lived on Lookout Mountain.

Senator Bob Corker said, “Jack Lupton was a giant of a man. When most had given up on Chattanooga, he saw the great potential that existed in the community he loved and rallied us around his dream for the city we enjoy today. Not only was he enormously generous, he was willing to risk his reputation on civic endeavors like the Aquarium and was an inspiration to us all. He was both a mentor and a friend to me and I will miss him greatly.”

Senator Lamar Alexander said, “Jack Lupton had big ideas for Chattanooga and for Tennessee and his remarkable generosity helped make those dreams come true.”

The family's Lyndhurst Foundation continues to invest millions of dollars in Chattanooga projects, including the Tennessee Riverwalk.

His grandfather, John Thomas Lupton, was an attorney who came to Chattanooga from Winchester, Va. He married Elizabeth Patten, daughter of Chattanooga Medicine Company founder Z.C. Patten.

J.T. Lupton was one of three Chattanoogans with the foresight to obtain a contract to bottle Coca-Cola from its founder in Atlanta. This was to bring great riches to the Lupton family, who built the Lyndhurst mansion in Riverview.

Cartter Lupton, only child of J.T. Lupton, was the father of Jack Lupton.
He took over management of the bottling empire after his father died of a ruptered appendix in 1933. Cartter Lupton married Margaret Rawlings.

Their son, Jack Lupton, was born in 1927.

At Baylor School, he was captain of the swimming team as well as a letterman in varsity football, basketball and baseball.

After he graduated in 1944, he joined the Navy and was assigned to PT boats. He spent a year in the South Pacific before the war ended. He then enrolled at the University of North Carolina, where he majored in business administration.

He later went to Macon, Ga., and began at the lower rung of the bottling business as a bottle washer. Later, he returned to Chattanooga and became interested in the textile business. He was active with Dixie Yarns, but he returned to Coca-Cola bottling when his father became ill in 1954.

He had married Alice Probasco on March 20, 1948.

Jack Lupton succeeded his father as the owner of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottling company when Cartter Lupton died in 1977. The JTL bottling empire was sold to the Coca-Cola Company in 1986 for $1.2 billion.

Mr. Lupton also founded the Miller-Reid Advertising Agency.

Jack Lupton in December of 1985 made a rare public appearance, telling government leaders he would make a gift of $20 million toward development of the riverfront at Chattanooga. That was the impetus for the establishment of the Tennessee Aquarium and all the other remarkable developments along the riverfront. He agreed to serve on a board for carrying out the development.

Mr. Lupton also continued to serve as chairman of the board of the family's Lyndhurst Foundation.

In 2001, he donated $25 million to UTC to help transform the campus.

Children of Jack and Alice Lupton include a son, Thomas Cartter Lupton, who lives in South Carolina; Alice, who is married to attorney Alfred Smith and lives on Lookout Mountain, and Katherine, who marred Lucien Burns Crosland, a Dallas developer. Margaret married Charles Cole Gerber.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Lookout Mountain, with Rev. Robert Childers officiating assisted by Rev. John Talbird and Rev. King Oehmig.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to Hospice of Chattanooga, Baylor School, the Tennessee Aquarium, or a favorite charity.

Visit to share words of comfort to the family.

Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 7454 E. Brainerd Road.

AUDIO: Jack Lupton Addresses the County Commission in 1985: Audio File

County Commission Minutes from Jack Lupton's address in 1985

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