Candler, Asa Griggs
Businessman and philanthropist Asa Griggs Candler was born in Villa Rica, Georgia on December 30, 1851. Candler began his career as a pharmacist, from which he got into the business of buying and developing patent medicines. In 1886 he paid John Pemberton $2300 for the rights and formula of a new “brain tonic” known as Coca-Cola that Pemberton had developed. Candler believed Coca-Cola had a better future as a fountain drink than as a medicine, so he turned his advertising and financial talents to that end. It was largely due to Candler’s innovative advertising and supportive employee relations that Coke became such a remarkable worldwide success.
Candler was very generous with his earnings - particularly in giving to the Methodist church and to education. In 1914, he donated one million dollars and seventy-five acres of land to establish a school of higher learning in Atlanta - Emory University. His gifts to Emory ultimately totaled over eight million dollars. When his adopted home of Atlanta suffered a physical and financial decline, Candler responded to the urging of worried business friends and successfully ran for the office of mayor. During his term, Atlanta went from a $150,000 deficit to a surplus of more than $40,000. Candler continued his philanthropic ways by donating land for a park in Atlanta, beginning the forerunner of the chamber of commerce, and supporting a bond issue for sanitary and school improvements. Candler died on March 12, 1929, in Atlanta and was buried in Westview Cemetery.