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This Day in Georgia History

August 26, 1950

Columbus Roberts, Sr. Died

Businessman, politician, civic leader, and philanthropist Columbus Roberts, Sr. died in Columbus, Georgia.

Born in Alabama in 1870, Roberts opened a carbonated beverage firm in Opelika in 1893. His success led the new Coca-Cola Co. to give him the franchise to bottle Coke in Opelika and Columbus. As a result, Roberts became wealthy - but he had other interests and turned the company over to his son in 1936. One of these interests was agriculture. From 1927 to 1931, Roberts served in the Georgia General Assembly, where he was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. In 1937, he was elected as state Commissioner of Agriculture, where he accomplished many reforms. In 1940, he unsuccessfully ran for governor against Eugene Talmadge. Afterwards, he became an active benefactor of religious education at Mercer University, Tift College, and the Georgia Baptist Foundation.