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Charlotte philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell dies at 102

Sarah Belk Gambrell, trustee emerita, is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a graduate of Sweet Briar College.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte icon, retail giant, and philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell has died at age 102, a family spokesperson tells WCNC Charlotte. 

Sarah Belk Gambrell, trustee emerita, is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a graduate of Sweet Briar College.

She is the daughter of W. H. Belk Sr., founder of the Belk Group of stores, having served as an officer and director of Belk stores in the Southeast.

She is also active in arts and community organizations, she serves on the boards of the YWCA of Central Carolinas (honorary); YWCA of New York City (honorary); Parkinson's Disease Foundation, Columbia-Presbyterian New York; North Carolina Community Foundation, Inc., Raleigh; Executive Mansion, Fine Arts Committee, Raleigh; Cancer Research Institute, New York City (honorary); Dress for Success, Inc., Charlotte; The Charlotte Museum of History (honorary); Historic Rosedale Plantation, Charlotte; North Carolina Transportation Museum; and the Andrew Jackson Historical Foundation, Inc., Museum of the Waxhaws.

Gambrell served as trustee of Queens University, Charlotte; Princeton Theological Seminary (emerita); Trinity Episcopal School, Charlotte; and William Black Home for Religious Workers, Montreat.

She holds honorary doctorates from Erskine College, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University.
Her husband, the late Charles G. Gambrell, was a 1922 Furman graduate and a member of the university's Advisory Council. Together they established the Charles and Sarah Belk Gambrell Scholarship for deserving students at Furman.

Sarah has a daughter, Sally, and four grandsons, twins Charles and Cooper, and Christopher and Caleb.

Queens President Dan Lugo released the following statement regarding the death fo Gambrell: 

Charlotte lost a gem this week with the passing of the brilliant, lovely philanthropist, Sarah Belk Gambrell. As an honored trustee emerita, the mark she left on Queens and the Queen City is everlasting. We are so proud to honor her memory at Queens with the recently renovated Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for Arts and Civic Engagement – which thanks to her family’s generous contribution, will live out her dream to bring arts to the community and inspire young people to become civically engaged.


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