The VCU School of Nursing and MCV Foundation hosted a luncheon in October to thank the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation for providing nursing scholarships over the past 62 years. More than $6.7 million in scholarships has been given to the MCV Campus and VCU School of Nursing since 1954.
Lettie Pate Whitehead was a beloved philanthropist and businesswoman. She married Joseph Brown Whitehead, an attorney, who had the “preposterous idea” in 1899 to bottle Coca-Cola, which was a popular fountain drink at the time. He and his business partner bought the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola in most of the U.S. for $1. The rest, as they say, is history.
When Mr. Whitehead passed away just seven years later, Mrs. Whitehead took over her husband’s thriving bottling business and real estate interests and continued their successful trajectory. She became one of the first women in the U.S. to sit on the board of a major corporation when she was appointed a director of The Coca-Cola Company in 1934, where she served in that role until her death in 1953.
Conkey Pate Whitehead, one of Mrs. Whitehead’s two sons, established the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation in his will to honor his mother’s legacy. During her life, Mrs. Whitehead exemplified a strong sense of duty to help those in need. She had a special interest in nursing and was a volunteer nurse, supporting the World War II effort. The foundation was chartered to help women in need pursue an education.
Herbert A. Claiborne Jr., M.D., an MCV Foundation lifetime honorary trustee, has been involved with the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation for decades, and his father helped connect the foundation with VCU.
“Dr. Claiborne’s grandmother and parents were among Lettie Pate Whitehead’s closest friends,” said Russ Hardin, president of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. “Dr. Claiborne became a trustee of the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation in 1957. For almost 60 years, he has been a conscientious steward of the Whitehead legacy. A son of the Commonwealth, he also has been an ardent supporter of VCU and numerous other schools and charitable institutions in Virginia.”
This year, the foundation provided almost $500,000 in scholarships to 163 VCU School of Nursing students with an average GPA of 3.7. It is the largest annual scholarship program on the MCV Campus.
In Dr. Claiborne’s words, “The long-standing relationship between the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation and the VCU School of Nursing reflects our mutual commitment to the practice of nursing and to the young women who want to pursue nursing as a career. We are delighted to be partners in serving the essential needs of the community.”
On behalf of the VCU School of Nursing, Dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D., R.N., expressed thanks. “We are so grateful for the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation’s generosity to our school. The foundation’s investment helps us attract top students, including underrepresented students, as we strive to contribute to a highly talented, diverse nursing workforce.”
Contact us to learn how you can establish a scholarship or contribute to a program that supports our nursing students.