“When I was a kid in college, I thought that going to college was a rite of passage. As I got older, I realized the sacrifices that my parents had to make to make my college education possible,” says Tony Blackwell of Salisbury.
So, Blackwell, Catawba College Board of Visitors chairman, decided to establish a scholarship at Catawba in his parents’ honor as “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, both natives of Dixon, Tenn., were classmates and childhood sweethearts. They now make their home in Ayden, where the family moved in the early 1950s when John was transferred to DuPont’s Kinston plant. Tony Blackwell and his brother Phil grew up in Ayden.
Blackwell is a 1965 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but his association with Catawba College dates 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 the bank board, and Blackwell was tapped by Catawba to serve on both its Business Advisory Board and Board of Visitors. His 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,” Blackwell 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.”
His job took him across the state, but after he retired, he accepted a position with SunTrust, returning to Salisbury in 1997. He retired from SunTrust in 2006.
His son lives in Salisbury and his daughter in Norway. He has six grandchildren.