The son of a farmer and cattleman, Donald Keough was born in a small town in Iowa.
When the Depression hit, Keough's father lost most of his money in the cattle market, and when the house on the farm property accidentally burned down the family moved to Sioux City, where Keough's father struggled to start over again.
Of this time, Keough says, "It must have been devastating for him, but he never showed it. He was a great role model for me."
The young Keough enlisted in the Navy and after serving two years went to Creighton University on the G.I. Bill.
He began his career in television and radio, and moved on to marketing for a food company, which was acquired by Coca-Cola in 1964. And thus began a career that culminated in Keough's being named president of Coca-Cola in 1974.
Keough, who resides in Atlanta, stepped down from his position at Coca-Cola in 1993, having served as president, chief operating officer, and director of the worldwide Coca-Cola Company, but continues to serve as an adviser to the board.
He is currently the chairman of Allen & Company, an investment banking firm in New York.
Throughout his steady rise up the corporate ladder, Keough's pride in his Irish heritage remained constant.
And after a career in corporate America he turned to a venture of a different kind - investing in Irish Studies. In 1993, with an endowment of $2.5 million he established the Keough Institute of Irish Studies at Notre Dame, and the Keough Notre Dame Centre in Dublin, Ireland.
"Notre Dame didn't have any type of academic Irish studies program. It just seemed like a natural fit to me," Keough said at the time.
Today, over 400 students are part of Notre Dame's Irish Studies Program.
Keough is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Horatio Alger Award and the Notre Dame Laetare Medal.
In June 2007, he was granted Irish citizenship, something he celebrated by taking his wife Mickie, his children and grandchildren on a trip to Ireland.
In July of this year, Keough wrote his first book, "The Ten Commandments for Business Failure," where he uses his 60 years of business experience to highlight the challenges and obstacles faced in business. As Jack Welch said of the book, "A must for every leader."
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