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John Montgomery Belk


October 6, 2000
Contact: Meg Kimmel 704/894-2242 or mekimmel@davidson.edu

John Montgomery Belk is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk, Inc., which operates 207 fashion department stores in 13 states throughout the Southeast. He is also chairman of the board of Belk Stores Services, Inc.

His father, William Henry Belk, founded the first Belk store in Monroe, N.C., in 1888. Today, Belk, Inc. is the nation's largest privately owned department store organization.

Mr. Belk attended Charlotte public schools and McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., and received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Davidson College in 1943. Immediately following graduation from Davidson, he served in World War II in the U.S. Army infantry, attaining the rank of Lieutenant. He was discharged in Oct., 1945, but was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.

Throughout his career, Mr. Belk has been recognized and honored for his achievements and leadership in his business as well as in his community involvement and philanthropy.

He has been active in numerous activities to improve the business climate and the quality of life in Charlotte and the Carolinas. This includes serving as president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce in 1964, and serving 8 1/2 years‹from June, 1969, to Dec., 1977, as Mayor of the City of Charlotte, the longest tenure of any mayor in Charlotte's history. Under John Belk's leadership, Charlotte grew rapidly and emerged as a major financial and distribution center in the Southeast and a shining star among the nation's cities.

His administration set a positive example of how business and government can work together for the betterment of the community. He has been an avid promoter of Charlotte as a center for air travel. Following his years as mayor he served on the Charlotte Airport Advisory Committee, and was its chairman in 1980.

Mr. Belk has continued to provide leadership not only to the Belk organization, but to other major corporations and national business and professional associations. He has also provided leadership and financial support to numerous civic and charitable organizations and causes in Charlotte and the Carolinas.

Mr. Belk is a director emeritus of Wachovia Corporation and Quantum Chemical Corporation, and serves on the boards of directors of TXI, Lowe's Companies, Inc., Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Inc., and PMC, Inc.

He serves on the board of directors, and is a past chairman, of the National Retail Federation. He is also a member of, and has held national leadership positions with, the World Presidents Organization, the American Management Association and The Conference Board.

Mr. Belk serves as executive committee chairman of the North Carolina Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, as a member of the advisory board of the North Carolina Performing Arts Center, and is a member of the Carolinas' Partnership.

He is on the board of trustees of Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary, the board of visitors of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the North Carolina Council on Management and Development, and the Business Partnership Foundation of the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Mr. Belk is also a member and former president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, a long-time member and former president of the Presbyterian Hospital Foundation, a member and former director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council, and served as honorary chairman of the USS Charlotte Commissioning Committee. In 1996, he was a member of the Crusade Advisory Committee for the Carolinas Billy Graham Crusade.

Mr. Belk has headed a number of highly successful fund drives in recent years for Davidson College, the Presbyterian Hospital Foundation, Johnson C. Smith University, the American Lung Association and his church, Myers Park Presbyterian Church, which he serves as an elder.

Long active in Scouting, Mr. Belk is a Distinguished Eagle Scout and has been awarded Scouting's highest honors, including the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope and Silver Buffalo awards. He is a past president of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Region, and has served on the BSA National Executive Board. In 1988, the BSA named him a Baden-Powell Fellow.

Mr. Belk has received numerous local, state and national awards for his business and civic achievements and contributions. He received the National Retail Merchants Association's Gold Medal, the retail industry's highest honor, in 1978, and served as the association's chairman in 1974. He was named North Carolina's Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 1978, and the following year he received the Henry Lawrence Gantt Memorial Award from the American Management Association for distinguished achievement in management as a service to the community.

In 1980, Mr. Belk was awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Davidson College and Johnson C. Smith University, and in 1981, he received the National Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for "distinguished service in the field of human relations."

In 1988, the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry awarded Mr. Belk its Citation for Distinguished Citizenship. In 1993, he received the Charlotte Chamber's Citizen of the Carolinas Award, the Quantum Award from the Charlotte World Affairs Council, and was honored along with other members of the Belk family with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors' University Award for distinguished contributions to higher education in North Carolina.

In 1996, Mr. Belk received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Charlotte and the Joe Malamo Humanitarian Award from the Tower Club and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. In 1997, he received the World Citizen Award from the Charlotte World Affairs Council. Mr. Belk was honored for his outstanding leadership and management skills in 1998 with the Excellence in Management Award sponsored by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, the Charlotte Rotary Club and The Business Journal. He also received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Queens College, and the 1998 Friend of Print Award from the North Carolina Press Association.

In June 2000, he was named one of the Carolinas' Year 2000 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipients.

Mr. Belk and his wife, the former district court judge Claudia Erwin Watkins, have one daughter.

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