My friend Dale Halton had an amazing ability to lift people up | Opinion

·3 min read

Dale Halton was a mentor. She became a confidant, a friend and ultimately, family.

As a newly-crowned female CEO in the 1980s, she knew her road would not be easy. She knew there were doubters. She knew others would try to strike her down. But she was not one who gave up. And she was not one to give in.

There were not many female CEOs in Charlotte when I became Director of Athletics for UNC Charlotte. There weren’t a lot of female athletic directors either.

I leaned on Dale, the CEO of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Charlotte, to help me engage the corporate community. She introduced me to the right people, got me in the right doors. She also helped me navigate my way in the business of college athletics.

She knew the trials she had faced, and she knew she had not only battled through, but thrived. The key, in my eyes, was her ability to be strong and caring. To be powerful and generous. To be smart and warm.

Judy Rose
Judy Rose

She took immense pride in reviving Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Charlotte She was entrusted with the family business and never disappointed, growing it into a leader not just in Charlotte, but throughout the country.

At the same time, she took immense pride in her role in this community. Corporate success was one thing. Enhancing the community around her — one that she grew up in — was quite another.

There are so many tales of her generosity – when Pepsi turned 100, she gave each Pepsi employee $1,000 for each year of service. Who does that?

She made donations to UNC Charlotte — helping revamp both our campus and our athletic department. In one of the more remarkable turns, she named one facility not in honor of herself or a family member, but in honor of the very person who asked her for the donation: me. Who does that?

Dale Halton does that.

She always looked beyond herself. She looked for areas of need, and took bold steps to meet them. Obstacles yes. Challenges yes. But she had both the courage and heart to see it through.

Her generosity, not just of resources, but of time, counsel and knowledge changed our community. I’ve said before that without her our athletic program would not look like it does.

The same is true of Charlotte.

Her gifts have enhanced the performing arts and especially, Charlotte Ballet. She’s been influential in the growth of schools, including one for children with learning challenges. She’s created scholarships for any number of college students, including opportunities to study abroad. Her good will was as big as her heart. Her impact — her legacy — exists in the facilities she built, the programs she grew — but most importantly in the many young people who reaped those benefits.

She wanted, above all else, for others to reach their own heights.

And, she had this amazing ability to lift up. In business, in philanthropy, in relationships — she lifted so many.

For me, she was a mentor, a confidant, a friend and family. But, in that sense, I am far from alone.

Judy Rose is Director of Athletics Emerita Charlotte 49ers Athletics at UNC Charlotte.