Robert W. Woodruff

Born December 6, 1889
Died March 7, 1985
Nationality United States
Parents Ernest Woodruff

Robert Winship Woodruff (December 6, 1889 – March 7, 1985) was the president of The Coca-Cola Company from 1923 until 1954.

Early Years

Woodruff was born in Columbus, Georgia, the son of Ernest Woodruff, an Atlanta businessman who, among other things, was leader of the group of investors who bought The Coca-Cola Company from Asa Griggs Candler in 1919. His grandfather was Atlanta manufacturing magnate Robert Winship.

Working Career

Spurning his father's work offers, in February 1909 at age 19 he began work as a laborer at the General Pipe and Foundry Company foundry in Inman Park, Atlanta. For a week he shoveled and shifted sand, then worked a lathe as a machinist's apprentice. After a year he was fired. He then accepted a job offer from his father at Atlantic Ice and Coal Company but left after differences with him. Woodruff parlayed his love of early automobiling into a sales position at White Motor Company based in Cleveland, Ohio, and quickly rose to become vice president of that company.

When Coca-Cola got into financial difficulty, the board elected Robert Woodruff as president at the age of 33. Woodruff built Coca-Cola into an international company, establishing a foreign department in 1926. He stepped down as president in 1954, but remained on the board of directors until 1984.


He died in 1985 and was buried at the Westview Cemetery in southwest Atlanta. Woodruff's personal chauffeur was Luther Cain, Jr., father of businessman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

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