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University benefactor and library namesake passes at age 86

BOONE—Carol Grotnes Belk, for whom Appalachian State University’s Belk Library and Information Commons is named, died Aug. 25.

She, along with her husband Ike, supported numerous higher education and collegiate athletics projects across the state and the southeast. She and her husband are known for the gift of artwork and sculptures located across Appalachian’s campus.

View larger imageCarol Grotnes Belk, center, is pictured in this 2004 image celebrating the setting of a commemorative stone on Appalachian State University’s Carol G. Belk Library and Information Commons. Belk died Aug. 25. Also pictured are from right, former Boone mayor Velma Burnley, former Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock and his wife, Rosanne, Irwin “Ike” Belk, husband of the late Carol G. Belk, former Appalachian Board of Trustees member Reba Moretz, former University Librarian Mary Reichel, and former UNC System Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Gretchen Bataille. (Appalachian photo by former university photographer Mike Rominger)

“It was a privilege to get to know Carol Belk,” said former University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Dr. Mary Reichel. “She was a warm and loving person who was devoted to her husband, Ike, and their family. Her gracious manner made everyone feel like a long-time friend, and her sense of humor come through in such a nice, low key way. It was always clear that Ike could not have accomplished all he did without Carol’s daily support and love.”

Ike Belk established the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professorship for Library and Informational Studies in honor of his wife, the first professorship for a library within the UNC system. The professorship supports the Dean of Libraries, a position held by Joyce Ogburn since August 2013.

The professorship also provides funds that support the research and community outreach of the Dean of Libraries and opportunities that improve the library’s services and collection. A portion of the proceeds from this endowment supports the Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Lecture held each summer on campus.

“The Belks’ gifts to the library improved the services and collections for our students and faculty,” Reichel said. “They have been generous in a great many ways to Appalachian, and I am so glad that the Library houses their book collection, including books that Carol loved.”

In addition to Belk Library, a walk across campus will yield the Belk family name on a residence hall, Anne Belk Hall, named for the Belks’ late daughter-in-law, and sculptures located outside Belk Library and inside the new College of Education building. He also gifted the bronze Mountaineer statue located at the entrance to Stadium Drive. The track at Kidd Brewer Stadium is named in his honor for his gifts to Appalachian athletics.

Additional gifts to other areas of campus over the years include funds to establish the Daniel B. German Distinguished Professorship in Political Science and the new Reich College of Education building.

The Belks have made donations to more than 30 colleges and universities in North Carolina and South Carolina.