An heir to the Coca-Cola fortune, was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to William P. Heath, Jr.’s testimony at the Olin Moyle trial in early 1940 (p. 1259), he became a JW in 1932. Before 1932, Heath testified that he didn’t belong to any organized religion, but claimed to have attended many churches (p. 1295).
Also of interest is the fact that Heath’s mother was also a JW, but not his father. His mother became a Bible Student in 1915. Before 1932, Bible Student was the name used by Watch Tower adherents.
It was the Heath family that financed Beth Shan, a large San Diego, California home deeded to the Watch Tower and where Bonny Boyd Heath and husband, William P. Heath, Jr., lived. Beth Shan was located not far from Beth Sarim, the mansion built by the Watch Tower where Watch Tower’s second president, Joseph Rutherford, lived. Heath was a Watch Tower Board of Directors member and Rutherford’s confidant and secretary.
Of note is the following 1973 newspaper clipping about William P. Heath, Jr.
The Evangelical Beacon, August 21, 1973, page 2
COKE HEIR AS JEHOVAH’S WITNESS ‘ASSURED OF HEAVEN’
ATLANTA (EP) — William Heath, 70-year-old heir to a substantial Coca-Cola company estate, says an “invisible directive’ from God assures him he is going to heaven.
At the Jehovah’s Witnesses meeting here Heath claimed he is one of the “anointed 144,000 who will go to heaven and serve as kings with Christ.”
“I got an invisible directive from God” he explained, adding to a reporter for the Atlanta Constitution, “It’s something you feel.”
Heath, whose father, Dr. William P. Heath, was a vice president with Coca-Cola and one of the developers of the original Coke formula, said he first realized he was anointed in 1931 when he was 28 years old. He was among 40,000 attending the Witnesses’ five-day convention here.
Heath had to know quite a bit about the Bible Student religion if he received an “invisible directive from God” to be one of the anointed. He said he realized he was anointed in 1931 at age 28. (He didn’t say baptized, but anointed.) Further, in the Moyle transcript, Heath said he had studied Watch Tower books and the Bible for seven or eight years before he became a minister and that would have meant his interest in the Bible Students began around 1923. He married Dorothy Smith around 1929 or 1930. A year or two later he claimed that he was anointed. There is no evidence that his wife, Dorothy, was interested in the Bible Students.
After his so-called anointing in 1931, Heath said he met Rutherford in 1934 and went into Bethel in 1937 as a married man but separated. He and Dorothy were divorced in 1938 and Heath married Bonnie Boyd, Rutherford’s secretary, one week later.