Frank Monteith, 74: Entrepreneur was friendly, generous

One could say that entrepreneurship was in Frank Monteith’s blood. He had designed and planned his own path to success, which was one he knew couldn’t be fulfilled if he was forced to work for somebody else.

“He did not like working for other people,” said his wife and CEO of Leadership Atlanta, Pat Upshaw-Monteith. “He knew that working hard for someone else’s company was not his path to the success he had hoped to achieve.”

Throughout his entrepreneurial career, Monteith had his hand in everything from owning nationally franchised fuel and retail establishments to owning and operating a dry cleaning service. At the start of his career, he had worked as a sales manager at Standard Oil, now known as Exxon Mobil Corp., but soon left the company to open his own service station, his wife said.

But Monteith’s true passion was in the transportation business, and after selling his service station in 1971, he started The Atlanta Livery Co., which he owned and operated for 43 years. Monteith’s favorite part about the limousine service was getting to connect with people, and he often offered his services free of charge.

“It was not all about making the money,” his wife said. “He was a people person, and he always said, ‘give clients what they want and then some, and they’ll always come back.’ ”

Frank Hull Monteith Jr., of Decatur, died Tuesday from complications of heart failure at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. He was 74.

His memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta. Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home was in charge of cremation arrangements.

Monteith’s expertise and dedication to business didn’t go unnoticed. The Atlanta Tribune named him the 1996 Small Business Operator of the Year, and he was inducted into the Atlanta Business League Hall of Fame in 2008.

But Monteith placed friendships and community over everything, always going through with his promises and often donating to several nonprofit organizations around Atlanta, said longtime friend Xernona Clayton, president and CEO of The Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc.

“He was just a friendly, warm gentleman,” she said. “Everybody wanted Frank on their team because they knew he was a man who kept his word. Wherever he was, he was delivering whatever he promised.”

Organizations Monteith frequently gave to included UNICEF, the United Negro College Fund, Morehouse College and many more. He was also a former board member of the Atlanta NAACP, the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority and Southside Health Care Center, his wife said.

“Probably 70 percent of what he did he gave away,” she said. “He just wanted to help people.”

Those who had the pleasure of working with Monteith know the importance he placed on creating friendships, and everybody in his community knew he was a man who could be trusted. In addition to his entrepreneurial success, Monteith will be remembered for his amicable and generous spirit, said former vice president of The Coca-Cola Co. and former chairwoman of the Coca-Cola Foundation, Ingrid Saunders Jones.

“Some people have people skills, some people don’t,” she said. “And Frank Monteith had people skills. He was the epitome of what a good friend is.”

In addition to his wife of 25 years, Monteith is survived by one daughter, Felice Heather Monteith of Los Angeles, Calif.; two sons, Brandon Michael Monteith of Decatur, and Jon Kevin Stone of New York, N.Y.; three sisters, Rachel Monteith Petty, Wilma Monteith Prince and Diane Monteith Bailey, all of Washington, D.C.; and one brother, Henry Monteith of Savannah.