Anne Cox Chambers, a major philanthropist, political figure and longtime owner of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and WSB TV and radio, died Jan. 31 at age 100, according to an AJC obituary.

Chambers was a longtime Buckhead resident, living in the Rosewood mansion on West Paces Ferry Road, across the street from the Governor’s Mansion.

Anne Cox Chambers. (Photo AlexGagnon13 on Wikipedia via Creative Commons license.)

Born Dec. 1, 1919, she was the surviving heir of the family that founded the media and communications powerhouse now known as Cox Enterprises in Ohio in 1898. She and her late sister Barbara Cox took ownership of the company in 1974. Last year, Cox Enterprises sold most of its media empire, including WSB, but kept the AJC, which remains based in Dunwoody. Chambers retained a title of “chairman of Atlanta Newspapers” in the company.

As a philanthropist with a multibillion-dollar fortune, Chambers was a contributor to the remake of the High Museum of Art and many other institutions, including Buckhead’s Atlanta Speech School. She was a founder of the Forward Arts Foundation and its Swan Coach House, now a fixture of the Atlanta History Center campus in Buckhead. In a 2011 Atlanta Magazine interview, she cited that foundation work as among those that made her proudest. “Twelve ladies decided to [form the group], and some of the men who didn’t like women interfering named us the “Dirty Dozen,” and we loved that! We were very proud of that,” the magazine quoted her as saying.

An active Democrat, she befriended Jimmy Carter when he was governor. As president, Carter named her the U.S. ambassador to Belgium in 1977-1981.

“Her life serves as a path for fairness and equality for everyone and especially for women and girls,” Carter said in a Jan. 31 written statement issued by his Carter Center. “Atlanta, our state of Georgia, and the world has lost a wonderful woman, business leader and philanthropist.”

“She was generous to the community she loved, deeply cherished God’s gifts found in nature, and was a force to be reckoned with,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in a written statement.

Mary Norwood, chair of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and a former City Council member, said that her family and Chambers’ “have known each other for decades.”

“Anne Cox Chambers lived a full, enthralling life that was an inspiration to me and countless others,” Norwood said in a written statement. “She was an influential businesswoman, dedicated public servant and legendary philanthropist. She was the epitome of grace and charm and we will all miss her. Atlanta and the world have lost an iconic figure whose impact will be felt for generations to come.”

Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and former mayor in 1970-1974, said that Chambers always “kept a low profile” but was known to be influential.

“Anne was quiet publicly and she wielded a tremendous amount of power, and every politician knew it,” he said.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.