Livingstone mourns passing of Irwin Belk, supporter and donor of the college

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Irwin “Ike” Belk

SALISBURY – Livingstone College mourns the loss of Irwin “Ike” Belk, who was laid to rest on Monday, March 5, 2018.

Belk, a philanthropist, businessman and public servant, died on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. He was 95.

Belk was passionate about education and athletics, and took on the cause of helping educational institutions create tracks and procure sculptures of their mascots – often the largest of their kind in the world.

Livingstone College’s track is named after Belk, and the menacing Blue Bear that adorns the front lawn of campus was made possible by Belk’s generosity, said Dr. State Alexander, Livingstone College executive assistant to the president and vice president of communications and public relations.

“Our mascot is the featured attraction on the front lawn. It is where alumni, students, future Blue Bears and their parents gather for photo opportunities when visiting our campus. Belk created an indelible footprint at Livingstone by helping us secure this monumental sculpture of our mascot,” Alexander said.

Belk served more than 50 years as an executive with Belk Stores, his family’s namesake department store; four terms in the N.C. House and Senate; two terms as a United Nations delegate; and served on numerous boards.

As a state senator, he introduced the legislation creating UNC-Charlotte as the fourth member of the University of North Carolina system. He later served on the UNC System Board of Governors and the UNCC Board of Trustees.

Belk was born on April 4, 1922, in Charlotte, the fourth of six children of department store magnate William Henry Belk Sr. and Mary Irwin Belk. A World War II veteran, he attended Davidson College and transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was drafted in 1943. He returned to UNC- Chapel Hill, where he graduated in 1948.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carol Grotnes Belk, to whom he was married for 66 years; and four brothers, Henry, John, Henderson and Tom Belk.

Survivors include his children, William Irwin Belk (Georgia), Irene Belk Miltimore (Dean), Marilyn Belk Wallis (Edward), and Carl Grotnes Belk (Beth); a sister, Sarah Belk Gambrell; and 11 grandchildren.

“Mr. Belk’s light will live on in the people who knew and loved him, and in the lives and institutions he touched through his generosity,” said Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., Livingstone College president. “We share in the sorrow and loss of this great philanthropist who believed ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’”



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