Two Salisbury residents were awarded honorary degrees during Catawba College's 10 a.m. Commencement Exercise on Saturday, May 12. Wilson L. Smith and William C. Stanback received honorary doctor of humanitarian service degrees in recognition of their many contributions to the Rowan-Salisbury community and Catawba College.
Wilson L. Smith
Wilson L. Smith, a native of Spartanburg, S.C., is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College and a veteran of World War II, attaining the rank of Major. He served as Commanding Officer of a U.S. Air Force Reserve Unit.
One of the cofounders of Food Town/Food Lion in 1957 with Brown Ketner and Ralph Ketner, he served as vice president of Food Lion until his retirement in 1979 and then continued on its Board of Directors. His career in the supermarket industry spanned over 64 years.
A founder of the Wilson L. Smith Family Foundation, he has supported higher education through student scholarship endowments Lenoir-Rhyne, and establishing the Wilson L. Smith Family Village for student housing at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C. He was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by Lenoir-Rhyne.
At Catawba College, Mr. Smith and wife Evelyeen have been long-time supporters and generous benefactors of the College's Endowment and Capital Campaigns. The couple was honored at the College's Service of Praise and Thanksgiving in 1996. Wilson Smith was honored with the Adrian L. Shuford Award in 2000, an annual award given to an individual who has played an outstanding role in supporting the College and its programs through time, talent and resources.
A member of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Salisbury, he has served the church in many capacities from usher, to Sunday school teacher and Sunday school superintendent. In May 1994, he was honored as one of the congregation's "Silent Angels." He served on the Board of Trustees of Lutheran Services for the Aging Foundation, as chairman and a board member of the Board of Trustees for St. John's Benevolent Foundation, and as vice chairman and member of the Board of Trustees for Trinity Oaks Retirement Community.
In the local community, Mr. Smith received Toastmaster Certification as a member of the Salisbury Toastmasters Club, was a member of the American Rose Society, and volunteered with and supported Meals on Wheels, Hospice, and the Elizabeth Hanford Dole Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is a member of Kiwanis, where he was named a George F. Hixson Fellow by Kiwanis International for outstanding service to his club and community. He and his wife are also supporters of the Baddour Memorial Center in Senatobia, Mississippi, establishing a scholarship fund there.
From 1992 until 2001, Smith served as a board member of the Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation. He and his wife, whom he married in 1943, are acknowledged as the most generous benefactors in the history of Rowan Regional Medical Center. The Wilson L. Smith Family Outpatient Center was named in tribute to their generosity. The couple served as honorary co-chairpersons for the hospital's recent "Partners in Progress" capital campaign and a key component of that campaign, the Smith Heart and Vascular Center, will be named after them in recognition for their leadership giving.
Mr. Smith and his wife are parents of two adult sons, Ronnie Smith of Salisbury who serves on Catawba's Board of Trustees and Tim Smith of Cary, and two grandchildren.
William C. Stanback
Born in Spencer, William C. Stanback is a lifelong resident of the area. An alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned his degree there in business, and later continued his education at Harvard Business School.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served during World War II on a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic. Following his military service, he came back home to Salisbury to work in the family business, the Stanback Company, serving as a partner in the company for over 35 years.
In addition to his business career, Mr. Stanback served as mayor of Salisbury from 1973 to 1975. He is a board member of the Salisbury Community Foundation and a past president of the Kiwanis. He has been a benefactor to the local community, to other educational institutions and to Catawba for many years.
Known for his avid interest in the environment, Mr. Stanback is a supporter of both the LandTrust and the Nature Conservancy, and was one of the originators and an advocate for the idea of creating Catawba's 189-acre Ecological Preserve. As a volunteer committee member of the Salisbury Greenway Task Force, which adjoins the Ecological Preserve, he has continued in a stewardship role for the Preserve, in addition to providing generous philanthropic support to the College for the Preserve's maintenance.
At Catawba College, Mr. Stanback has established a First Family Endowed Scholarship Fund in memory of his first wife who was an English Department faculty member before her untimely death. He has generously supported several of the College's capital campaigns and contributed funds for the improvement of the campus library.
Catawba awarded Mr. Stanback the Adrian L. Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service in 2003, a honor given annually to an individual who has played an outstanding role in supporting the college and its programs through their time, talent, and resources.
He and his wife Nancy are parents of three children, three stepchildren and have many grandchildren and step-grandchildren.