Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Emma Catherine McIntyre Lasseter | 1920-2009

Emma Lasseter turned down job as Coca-Cola artist, found fizz in real life

MANHATTAN MANOR — As a young woman, Emma Lasseter had dreams about a career in art.

But in her first job interview, a prospective employer talked her out of it. She had ample talent, he told her, but he was afraid she would lose her passion for art if she depended on it for her living.

"The man who was the head of the art department said, 'I'll be happy to hire you. I'll take you on right now,' " said Marilyn Durst, Mrs. Lasseter's daughter. 'But everything you've shown me is creative expression. If you go into commercial art, you'll never be able to express yourself. You'll have to draw what you're told to draw.' "

So Mrs. Lasseter declined the chance to work in the art department of the Coca-Cola Co. She left him one of her drawings, a picture of Santa Claus that he especially admired.

She opted for a life as a homemaker, mother and administrative secretary. She never regretted the decision. In fact, she loved her life.

"She embraced everything she did in her life," said her son, Thornton Lasseter. "She really was a magnificent artist, but she loved her job, too, and she was a fantastic mom."

Mrs. Lasseter, 88, died Feb. 19 after several years of declining health.

Maybe because she turned down that job, she never lost her passion for art. Throughout her life, she created gorgeous pastel and watercolor paintings. She never sold one or hung them on her walls. Her joy was in creating, not in admiring the finished work.

She was born Emma McIntyre and grew up in Atlanta, the youngest of five children. The family tended to be boisterous, and loud arguments weren't uncommon. Young Emma preferred quiet, so her mother made a retreat under the stairs, where the little girl could escape the rowdiness. She'd spend many happy, solitary hours there honing her artistic skills.

"She was a very strong woman," her daughter said. "But she was very non-confrontational."

She studied ballet, and when she was about 17 she volunteered to dance in local USO shows.

About that time she met a man 11 years her senior, Thornton "Tony" Lasseter.

They married in 1942 and started to raise a family in Atlanta. They later divorced and spent two years apart, then remarried.

Partly to get a fresh start on their renewed marriage, the couple and their children moved to Tampa in the early 1950s.

"It was a very small town," their daughter said. "But they loved it. It reminded them of what Atlanta was like in the old days."

The second marriage worked out better. They remained together until Tony Lasseter died in 1988.

"She was a very loving, caring, sheltering, nurturing mom," Durst said. "She could be a tough mom when she had to be. But she much preferred to be a nurturing mom."

She spent 27 years working at the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security. Years later, Durst briefly worked for that same department and found out her mother was widely admired by her co-workers.

"Everyone said she was the best," Durst said.

She created hundreds of pieces of art over the years, but almost all of them have disappeared.

One work may have been immortalized, though. According to family legend, that Santa Claus drawing that she gave to the head of Coca-Cola's art department became the model for the Santa in Coke's familiar Christmas ads for years to come.

"I don't know if that's true or not," Durst said. "But that's the family lore."

Mrs. Lasseter is survived by two other sons, Gary and Stewart Lasseter; another daughter, Victoria Lasseter; 12 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild.

Emma Lasseter turned down job as Coca-Cola artist, found fizz in real life 02/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Fennelly: Bucs' Roberto Aguayo has his backers, no matter how many kicks he misses

    Bucs

    He was perfect Friday, and not just because he didn't have to kick.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) takes a photo with fans following the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.
  2. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  3. What to watch this weekend: 'The Last Tycoon,' 'Room 104,' 'Rick and Morty'

    Blogs

    Checking in: Room 104

    Listen up, fans of Hitchcock and American Horror Story. Room 104 might be your next obsession. With a premise that feels experimental, Room 104 explores one of film's most traditional styles - telling a story from the inside of just one room. The HBO series is from …

    Rick and Morty returns on Sunday for a third season.
  4. Rubio: I intend to keep campaign promises on Obamacare

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio says he remains committed to overturning Obamacare following the collapse of the latest attempt.

  5. Family spokeswoman: British baby Charlie Gard has died

    World

    LONDON — Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died. He would have turned 1 next week.

    This is an undated photo of sick baby Charlie Gard provided by his family, taken at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. [Family of Charlie Gard via AP]