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Sunday December 9th, 2018 5:19PM

Business tycoon J.B. Fuqua dies at age 87

By The Associated Press
<p>J.B. Fuqua, a business tycoon and philanthropist who built a multibillion dollar conglomerate and became an important figure in the Georgia Democratic Party, has died of complications from bronchitis. He was 87.</p><p>His widow, Dorothy Fuqua, said her husband died Wednesday night at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta where he was taken two weeks ago.</p><p>She told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was "dying all day" and then "he just stopped breathing. At least he's out of pain."</p><p>"He died peacefully with his family by his side," Anne Sterchi, who worked with Fuqua, said Thursday.</p><p>Fuqua served three terms in the Georgia legislature _ two in the House and one in the Senate _ beginning in 1957. He helped pass legislation to finance a new governor's mansion and helped Carl Sanders become governor in 1962. Fuqua became chairman of the state Democratic Party in 1966.</p><p>"He was a man of unusual talents and had great friends and was benefactor to many worthy causes," Sanders said. "He proved what an individual living in a country like American can do if they are willing to work hard and challenge themselves. He was a great man at a great time."</p><p>"J.B. Fuqua was a great philanthropist and businessman who proved that the American dream is alive and well," said Bobby Kahn, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party. "He pulled himself up from tremendously humble origins and created an amazingly powerful company. Through his generosity to countless organizations, his legacy will live well into the future, helping others realize their dreams."</p><p>He was a close friend of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, frequently joining him on hunting trips.</p><p>"In his later years, I probably spent more time with him than anyone outside of Texas," Fuqua said in a 1986 interview with Cable News Network. "I had an airplane and could get a landing strip on the ranch and he would call me up and just ask me to come visit two or three days."</p><p>Fuqua said he learned much from Johnson about power in government and its inner workings.</p><p>He bought and sold 60 companies through his Fuqua Industries empire, which had $2 billion in revenue in 1979.</p><p>Fuqua was the retired chairman of the former Fuqua Industries, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that was involved principally in sporting goods, lawn and garden equipment and photo finishing.</p><p>In 1993, Fuqua changed its name to Actava Group, Inc. and two years later merged with three other companies in a four-way stock-swap merger. The result was a global communications, entertainment and media company known as Metromedia International Group, Inc.</p><p>Fuqua cashed out his interest in the company in 1988 and reportedly pocketed $50 million. He stayed active in the company after that but resigned from the board in 1990.</p><p>Forbes magazine estimated his worth at $260 million in 1988, but he missed membership in the Forbes Four Hundred a year later when it took $275 million to make it.</p><p>"I got off their list and thank God! As long as I was on it, everyone and his brother sent me letters," he said in a 1990 interview.</p><p>Fuqua's mother died when he was two months old. He was born John Brooks Elam on June 26, 1918, in Prince Edward County, Va., and then was adopted by his maternal grandparents, who reared him. His name was changed from Elam to Fuqua, according to the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.</p><p>Fuqua never went to college, but frequently ordered books by mail from Duke University, an anecdote noted in a Fortune magazine profile that was seen by a Duke librarian. The librarian found Fuqua's old library card order and contacted him.</p><p>Fuqua was so pleased with Duke recalling his boyhood requests that over a period of years he gave the university $24 million, $10 million of which was used to establish the Fuqua School of Business in 1980..</p><p>He is survived by his widow, Dorothy, a son, J.Rex Fuqua of Atlanta and two grandchildren. Another son, Alan B. Fuqua, died in a plane crash at age 18.</p>
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