New Scholarship Pays Tribute to Parents' Sacrifices
February 8, 2008
"When I was a kid in college, I thought that going to college was a rite of passage and as I got older, I realized the sacrifices that my parents had to make to make my college education possible," explained Catawba College Board of Visitors Chairman Tony Blackwell of Salisbury. "This new scholarship I've established in my parents' honor at Catawba is my way of paying tribute to their sacrifices. This scholarship was their Christmas gift."
Preference for the John and Betsy Blackwell Endowed Scholarship will be given to deserving students enrolled in the Ketner School of Business who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership ability, and financial need.
John and Betsy Blackwell, who are both natives of Dixon, Tenn., and were classmates and childhood sweethearts, now make their home in Ayden, N.C. John Blackwell moved his family to that area in the early 1950s when he was transferred to DuPont's Kinston plant. Tony Blackwell and his sibling, Phil, spent most of their youth in Ayden. Today, Tony says of his parents, "They live for one another."
Although he is a 1965 alumnus of UNC Chapel Hill, Tony's association with Catawba College dates back to the early 1980s when he was employed by Bank of America in Salisbury. Catawba College's president at that time, the late Dr. Stephen Wurster, served as a member of Tony's bank board, and Tony was tapped by Catawba to serve on both its Business Advisory Board and Board of Visitors. Tony's children, Betsy and Chris, were also Salisbury High School classmates of Dr. Robert Knott's children, Andrea and Bobby.
"If you are looking for a small liberal arts school for your student, you'll not find one any better than Catawba College," Tony said. "The attention your student will receive from faculty and administration and the opportunities they will have at a small school where they're known on a first name basis by their instructors can't be measured. I like Catawba's atmosphere and thoroughly enjoy its young people."
Catawba College Senior Vice President Tom Childress said of Tony Blackwell, "Here is a man who realizes the value of education and the impact a small college can have on a community. We value his long-lived support for our institution and his willingness to give of his time and his resources to enhance Catawba College."
Tony's first job out of college was with Bank of America and different positions of responsibility with the bank moved him across the state from Chapel Hill to Kinston, Fayetteville, Salisbury and Asheville. He was always interested in returning to Salisbury where his son and his family had settled, so after his retirement from Bank of America, he accepted a position with SunTrust and returned to Salisbury in 1997 as community executive with responsibilities for SunTrust branches in Rowan County. Tony retired from SunTrust in 2006.
Fortunately for Catawba College during Tony's tenure at both Bank of America and SunTrust, his financial support of Catawba was increased thanks to the banks' corporate matching gifts programs.
When asked what advice he would share with a current college student, Tony responded, "Do not miss any opportunity that your education can offer you whether it's travel or a course outside of your major that you may be interested in. And also, read, read, read, read!
"My own education made me realize how important an education is. Mine allowed me to accomplish many things both personally and professionally. If I hadn't earned a college degree, doors may not have even opened for me. My education was basically a liberal arts education although I earned it at a university, and it taught me to communicate."
Now a grandfather of six, Tony enjoys spending time with his son's family in Salisbury and his daughter's family in Norway.