“Claus was a true globalist
with a deep understanding
of every country in which we operate.
He was dedicated to our company
and fostering a more inclusive world.
His commitment to everything he did was second to none
and he was always a gentleman
with a wonderful dry sense of humor.
The world is a better place because of Claus Halle.”
E. Neville Isdell
The Coca-Cola Company
Claus M. Halle
International Business Executive and Philanthropist
Claus M. Halle, (1927 – 2004) was an international business executive and philanthropist. Born in Schwelm, Germany in 1927, Mr. Halle was raised in Germany after spending his early childhood years in India with his parents. At age 16, Mr. Halle was drafted into the German army during World War II. He was taken prisoner by the Allied Forces and, following his release, completed his high school education. He then worked for three years at a British PX facility, which enabled him to obtain permission to bring his parents and family members from East Germany to West Germany, although he was forced to forgo university training to support his family. In 1950 he obtained a trainee position with The Coca-Cola Company of Germany starting as a truck deliveryman. During the next 45 years, he rose to be President of Coca-Cola Germany, then President of Coca-Cola Europe and, ultimately, Senior Executive Vice President of The Coca-Cola Company and President of Coca-Cola International. During his nearly four decades of service to The Coca-Cola Company, he developed a reputation for solving even the most complex problems through precise analysis and the application of a few simple principles.
Following his retirement as President of the Company’s International Soft Drink Business Sector in 1989, Mr. Halle continued to serve as an international consultant for The Coca-Cola Company and as Director on numerous boards including Coca-Cola Enterprises, and the Supervisory Board of Coca-Cola GmbH, Germany. He actively and financially participated as a Trustee of The Carter Center, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Southern Center for International Studies, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, and a Director of the Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics, the German American Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Goethe, and the International University Bremen. He was a member of the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., the Rotary Club of Atlanta, and the Capital City Club in Atlanta. Mr. Halle was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany; in 2000 Mr. Halle was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by Emory University; in 2001 he was honored as the Georgia Philanthropist of the Year.
A naturalized American citizen, Mr. Halle devoted enormous energy and resources to promoting international awareness and cooperation. In 1986, he established The Halle Foundation which seeks to promote understanding, knowledge and friendship between the people of Germany and those of the United States. In 1997, Mr. Halle established The Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory University with an endowment gift. In 2003, Mr. Halle brought together a group of business and civic leaders to host a conference celebrating the unification of Germany. The conference, held in Atlanta, featured former U.S. President George Bush, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
His work in the field of international philanthropy sought to encourage Americans to learn more about the views and ways of thinking of others and to become global as well as national citizens. He actively brought together people from around the world, from students to statesmen, in his own home to engage them in his philosophy. His philanthropic reach was national and international. He was a man of broad vision, quick intellect, charm, wit, and deep international understanding. Claus Halle lived his life seeking to expand understanding and respect around the globe.