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Three WNC Residents Receive Honorary Degrees from Appalachian

BOONE—An honorary doctor of laws degree was presented to Newland resident Martha Guy and Asheville resident Helen Powers, and an honorary doctor of letters degree was presented to Hugh Morton of Avery County this weekend during commencement ceremonies at Appalachian State University. The degrees recognize their contributions to the region, state and nation.

Guy was president and CEO of Avery County Bank for 25 years, the bank founded by her father in 1913.

Guy has long supported programs and activities at Appalachian, including the Harlan E. Boyles Distinguished CEO Lecture Series, the Walker College of Business Endowment for Excellence, the Dean’s Club, Bowden Student Managed Investment Fund, Business Study in China program, and An Appalachian Summer Festival.

Her generous contribution to the business college established the Martha Guy Summer Institute for Future Business Leaders, now in its second year.

The program brings talented high school students from across the state to campus for a three-week program focusing on business, arts and culture, and college life. In addition to attending presentations on campus, the students visit business sites in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Guy also has served on numerous educational and nonprofit boards, including the North Carolina Foundation, the Western North Carolina Better Business Bureau and the Council on Aging.

Morton is a well known preservationist, conservationist and photographer, as well as the developer of Grandfather Mountain.

Morton was a combat photographer and newsreel cameraman during World War II. His photographs have appeared in numerous magazines and hang in nearly every visitors center along North Carolina highways.

He developed Grandfather Mountain’s 3,500 acres at while the same time preserving the mountain as a wildlife habitat. As a result, the area received the United Nation’s International Biosphere Reserve designation as a place for scientific research.

Morton almost single handedly protected the state’s ridge tops from overdevelopment by advocating passage of the Mountain Ridge Protection Act of 1983, which prohibits the construction of buildings or structures more than 40 feet high on ridges at or above 3,000 feet elevation. He also was instrumental in the preservation of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Morton is a member of the N.C. Business Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the North Carolina Award for Public Service and the Governor’s Award from Leadership North Carolina.

Powers was the first woman to serve as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Revenue. She was appointed to the post in 1985 by former Gov. Jim Martin, and held the position until 1990. She also was the first woman to become a senior vice president of a North Carolina bank – Bank of Asheville – and the first business woman to be inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

As revenue secretary, Powers gained approval for a $36 million building to house the Department of Revenue. Her tax amnesty program brought in $40 million of unpaid tax revenues.

Powers has a long association with Appalachian. She has been an active participant in the Harlan E. Boyles Distinguished CEO Lecture Series and has been instrumental in raising funds for student scholarships and faculty development.

A recent gift to the university funded the remodeling of a 6,400-square-foot banquet room in the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center on campus, now known as the Helen A. Powers Grand Hall.