J.B. Fuqua, the benefactor who donated more than $40 million to Duke during his lifetime, died at an Atlanta hospital Wednesday. He was 87.

Known for his shy demeanor and business acumen, Fuqua, the namesake of the Fuqua School of Business, was a Duke trustee emeritus and a charter member of the business school's Board of Visitors.

A self-educated man who never attended college, Fuqua was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Duke in 1973. Nine other colleges and universities gave Fuqua similar awards.

Fuqua, who grew up on a tobacco farm in Virginia, learned the ways of the business world by borrowing books via mail from the Duke library.

"He's an amazing example of the self-made man and the self-taught man, and Duke helped him in giving him an education," President Richard Brodhead said. "It teaches you something about the good a university can do even if you're not enrolled there."

Fuqua was a millionaire by age 35 and at one point was listed in the Forbes 400-an annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States.

His $10-million gift in 1980, which helped endow the Fuqua School of Business, was the second largest gift the school had received at that point, surpassed only by the $24 million given by tobacco baron James B. Duke in 1924.

Former President Terry Sanford called Fuqua's gift "a major milestone in the history of Duke University."

Fuqua was best-known as the chair of Fuqua Industries, Inc., an Atlanta-based Fortune 500 company.

From modest beginnings, Fuqua Industries acquired companies that ranged from Pier 1 Imports to a maker and distributor of sporting goods. The conglomerate also included petroleum product and farm equipment companies.

"I've succeeded at some and failed at some, but that's all right if you have more of the successes," Fuqua said in a speech he gave at Duke in 1983.

In his speeches, he often encouraged students to take risks and to show courage in business. "Leaders do not worry about the past, for they know there is seldom anything they can do about what has already happened," he said in a 1972 commencement speech at Hampden-Sydney College.

Fuqua's passions included hunting and flying his plane. But he was known for being dedicated to his job.

Once, after friends persuaded him to take a two-week vacation in Switzerland with his wife, he returned after just three days, noting that after he saw one castle, he felt like he had seen them all.

"J.B. Fuqua was a wonderful person, gracious and generous, humble and someone who really enjoyed life," Douglas Breeden, dean of the School of Business, said in a statement. "He will be missed tremendously by all of us. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family."

Fuqua is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and his son, Rex.