George W. Woodruff

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For other people of the same name, see George Woodruff.
George Waldo Woodruff
George Waldo Woodruff 1917.gif
George W. Woodruff
Born (1895-08-25)August 25, 1895
Died February 4, 1987(1987-02-04) (aged 91)
Emory University Hospital,
Atlanta, Georgia
Cause of death
Pneumonia
Alma mater Georgia Tech
Employer Coca Cola Company
Known for Director of the Coca Cola Company for 49 years; philanthropist
Spouse(s) Irene King Woodruff (1918-1982)
Children Jane, Irene, and Frances Woodruff
Parents Ernest Woodruff
Relatives Robert W. Woodruff (brother)

George Waldo Woodruff (August 27, 1895 - February 4, 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia) was an engineer, businessman, and philanthropist in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended the Georgia School of Technology in 1917 and gave generously to both his alma mater and Emory University, including (in coordination with his brother Robert W. Woodruff) what was at the time the single largest donation ever to a school, $105 million to Emory University in 1979.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Woodruff went to high school at Tech High School (now Henry W. Grady High School) and attended Georgia Tech's School of Mechanical Engineering and later the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but left school in 1917 due to World War I.[1][3] At Georgia Tech, he was a brother of the Kappa Alpha Order.[4]

Career[edit]

From 1936 to 1985 (49 years), Woodruff was the director of the Coca-Cola Company, although he was never an officer of the company. He also headed the Continental Gin Company from 1930 to 1985, which was a cotton-processing business.[1] George was the last living child of Ernest Woodruff, the magnate that led the Trust Company (now known as SunTrust) and who orchestrated the takeover of the Coca-Cola Company.[1] In 1984, Forbes Magazine estimated that Woodruff was worth $200 million ($454,003,844 today).[1]

Legacy[edit]

Woodruff is the namesake of several notable educational programs in Georgia. The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech is the university's oldest and second-largest school; it was named for Woodruff in 1985 on the school's centennial.[3] Also at Georgia Tech, the Woodruff Dining Hall is the only dining hall on west campus. Woodruff left the Georgia Tech Foundation $37.5 million in his will, one of the largest private gifts the school has received.[5]

Woodruff is remembered at Mercer University as well. He bequeathed the university's law school a $15 million endowment; the Woodruff Curriculum at Mercer's Walter F. George School of Law is named in his honor.[6] At Emory, the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center and the George and Irene Woodruff Residential Center bear his name.[7][8] Finally, there are numerous scholarships at Georgia Tech, Mercer, Emory and the University of Georgia named in his memory.[9][10][11]

Further reading[edit]

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