The Irwin Belk Athletic Complex (2002) is comprised of Grace P. Johnson Stadium (2007), Taylor Track (2002), Lumbee Guaranty Bank Field (2002) and the Caton Fieldhouse (2007).
The complex is named after Irwin Belk, former president and CEO of Belk Stores. The stadium is named after Grace P. Johnson. Taylor Track is named after Dick and Lenore Taylor, local businessman, while Caton Fieldhouse is named after Bob Caton, also a local businessman.
Aerial View of Belk Athletic Complex, Grace P. Johnson Stadium, Caton Fieldhouse, Taylor Track and Lumbee Guaranty Bank Field
Irwin Belk was born April 4, 1922, in Charlotte, N.C., the son of William Henry and Mary Leonora Irwin Belk. He has worked in his family’s business, Belk, Inc., his entire life. Today, Belk, Inc., is the nation’s largest privately-owned department store company with more than 275 stores in 16 states in the southeast, southwest, and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Mr. Belk retired from Belk, Inc. in 1996 and is now President of the Belk Group, Inc.
Mr. Belk served his country during World War II in the 491st Bomber Group of the 8th Air Force. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1959 and the North Carolina State Senate in 1963. He was appointed by President Clinton as the United States public delegate to the 54th United Nations General Assembly in 1999.
As senator, he introduced the legislation that made UNC Charlotte the fourth university in the UNC system. He served on the UNC Board of Governors for twenty-eight years, during that time The University of North Carolina at Pembroke joined the UNC system.
Mr. Belk has a distinguished career of service to local, state, national and international organizations. He was President of the American Cancer Society Foundation for forty years and received that organization’s highest award, the Merit Award in 2002.
Mr. Belk graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946. He has a lifelong interest in track and field, stemming from running for UNC-Chapel Hill during his undergraduate days.
Mr. Belk has been a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee for forty-five years and received the organization’s highest volunteer award, the Olympic Order, at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has attended every Olympic Games since 1960. The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs has on its grounds the Carol Grotnes Belk Sculpture Garden, named to honor his wife of fifty-eight years, and the Irwin Belk Olympic Path.
Mr. Belk has become perhaps the biggest individual philanthropist in the sport, building more than thirty-five tracks throughout the country and serving as a Board member for the USA Track and Field Foundation.
The Belk name permeates educational institutions throughout the country, and has a major presence at UNC Pembroke. UNCP’s Mary Irwin Belk Residence Hall, which was dedicated in 1970 and is named for Mr. Belk’s mother, marked the family’s first gift to the Pembroke campus. A contribution from Mr. Belk endowed the first distinguished professor position in the UNCP School of Business. In 2002, the Irwin Belk Athletic Complex at UNC Pembroke was named in his honor. UNCP, along with most institutions of higher learning in North Carolina and beyond, is grateful for the support, philanthropy, and vision of Irwin Belk.