Dorothy Fuqua, 93: Giving to others was life’s theme

The character Dottie Fuqua exemplified was summed up by many as “sweet.”

The woman whose philanthropy had lasting impacts in Atlanta and elsewhere was “a lovely, gracious, caring person,” said her son Rex Fuqua.

As the wife of J.B. Fuqua, a young broadcaster she married in 1954, “She was his co-pilot,” said family friend Tom Johnson. In fact, on their honeymoon the two took off in a single-engine airplane: “J.B. was the pilot. I was the navigator,” she said in a 2003 speech.

“She was always there to take care of the softer side of the relationship, it was truly a partnership,” her son said.

A native of Davisboro, Fuqua met her future husband while working as a secretary at Sears Roebuck in Augusta, and said years later, in 2003, “I have had the good fortune to go through life with a man who feels the same way I do.”

Over their 61-year marriage, the Fuquas endowed the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, the Fuqua Heart Center at Piedmont Hospital, the Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression at Emory and the Dorothy C. Fuqua Conservatory and Orchid House at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

One of the institutions she helped establish, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center in Austin, Texas, was named for her friend, the former first lady.

“Dottie was a touch of velvet in our lives,” said Luci Baines Johnson, Lady Bird’s daughter. “Gentile, gracious, the epitome of the Southern lady and a friend whose unqualified love for my parents meant the world to me.”

Dorothy Chapman Fuqua of Atlanta died Jan. 23 of complications of pneumonia. She was 93. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Northwest Presbyterian Church, 4300 Northside Drive, Atlanta. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill is in charge of arrangements.

The first lady was among the well-known people, including the Dalai Lama, who visited Fuqua in the Japanese gardens she created over the years at her Atlanta home. Fuqua served on more than 20 boards and was chairman of the buildings and grounds committee of the Skyland Trail nonprofit mental health treatment organization.

“Skyland Trail would be a different place if not for the vision and generosity of this remarkable woman,” said Beth Finnerty, president of Skyland Trail. “She led by example.”

Fuqua once said, “I will always believe that our gifts, our talents, and our best efforts are for sharing with other, wherever there is need.”

Her son said, “She taught me about courage, endurance, charity, kindness and generosity by watching the way she led her life.”

In addition to her son, Fuqua is survived by brother, Hugh Chapman, Jr. of Davisboro, Ga., and six grandchildren. She was preceded in death by son Alan Brooks Fuqua and husband John Brooks Fuqua.