J. Paul Austin, Former Coca-Cola Chairman, Dies At 70
ATLANTA (AP) _ J. Paul Austin, the retired Coca-Cola Co. chairman who took Coke to communist China in 1978, died Thursday at his home after a long illness. He was 70.
The funeral will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Patterson’s Spring Hill Funeral Home in Atlanta, with burial in Arlington Memorial Park.
A native of LaGrange, Ga., Austin graduated from Harvard Law School and joined Coca-Cola in 1949 after working for a New York law firm.
He became president of Coke in 1962, added the title of chief executive officer in 1966 and was named chairman in 1970. When he retired in 1981, he was succeeded by the current chairman, Roberto C. Goizueta.
In 1978, Austin negotiated an exclusive agreement to market Coke in China. The agreement was announced Dec. 13, 1978, two days before the United States and China established diplomatic relations.
Austin also is credited with negotiating an agreement to sell Fanta Orange, a Coca-Cola product, in the Soviet Union, ending Pepsi’s brief monopoly on U.S. soft drink sales there. In addition, he restored Coca-Cola operations in Egypt after a 12-year boycott.
Austin supervised the planning for Coca-Cola’s 26-story headquarters building near downtown Atlanta, which opened in 1979.
When he became president in 1962, the company had earnings of $46.7 million on sales of $567 million. When he retired in 1981, Coca-Cola was 10 times that size.
The company’s product line also grew during Austin’s tenure with the addition of new soft drink brands, wines and fruit juices. He established the Coca-Cola Foods Division in 1967.
Survivors include his wife, Jeane Weed Austin of Atlanta; two sons, John Paul ″Jock″ Austin Jr. of Fort St. John, British Columbia, and Samuel W. Austin of St. Louis; his mother, Maude Austin of Bradenton, Fla.; a sister, Miriam Reuter of Bradenton; and six grandchildren.