Anne Cox Chambers was a media mogul, philanthropist, and former U.S. ambassador. She was the primary owner of Cox Enterprises, a privately held media empire comprised of newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as television, radio, and other businesses. For thirty-three years, she co-owned the company with her sister, Barbara Cox Anthony, who died in May 2007. In 2016, Chambers had an estimated worth of $17 billion.
Anne Cox was born on December 1, 1919, in Dayton, Ohio, to Margaretta Blair and James Middleton Cox. She attended Finch College in New York. In 1955 she married Robert William Chambers, and the couple had three children, Margaretta, Katharine, and James. In 1974, upon the death of their brother, James M. Cox (known as “Jim Jr.”), Chambers and Anthony gained a controlling interest in the family company, which Jim Jr. had inherited from their father. That same year Chambers became chairwoman of Atlanta Newspapers. Anthony became chairwoman of Dayton Newspapers, while her husband, Garner Anthony, became the administrative head of Cox Enterprises. In 1988 Anthony’s son James Cox Kennedy replaced his father as chairman and chief executive officer.
During the 1980s, Chambers served as director of the board of the Coca-Cola Company. Her business career included two notable firsts: she was the first woman in Atlanta to serve as a bank director (Fulton National Bank), and she was also the first woman in Atlanta appointed to the board of the city’s chamber of commerce.
Active in politics, Chambers was appointed ambassador to Belgium by U.S. president Jimmy Carter, a post she held from 1977 to 1981. In recognition of her service, she was awarded the Order of the Crown, one of Belgium’s highest honors. Chambers went on to serve on President Clinton’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In her later years, she remained committed to Democratic causes and even canvassed for Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign.
Chambers divided her time between Atlanta and Provence, France, and in 2009 she received the French Legion of Honor. She was a major donor to cultural and educational institutions within Georgia as well as to national and international institutions. She served on the boards of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Atlanta Historical Society, and the Woodruff Arts Center, as well as on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pasteur Foundation, and the Whitney Museum in New York. She was also a longtime contributor to the Atlanta Humane Society, which named the Anne Cox Chambers Humane Heroine award in her honor.
In 2005 the High Museum of Art named one of the wings of its expanded facility after Chambers in honor of her lifetime of support. Her work with the High began in 1965, when she helped to establish the “Forward Arts Foundation,” a fund-raising group for the High Museum, the Atlanta History Center, the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Art, and the Atlanta Contemporary Center. In the early 1980s Chambers also served as honorary chair of the fund-raising effort to construct the museum’s Richard Meier complex. In October 2006 the High, in collaboration with the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, opened the exhibition “Louvre Atlanta,” in a partnership facilitated by Chambers.
Chambers died on January 31, 2020, at her home in Atlanta. She was 100.