Still Part of the Pack
Art and Mary Bethel began looking for ways to reconnect with NC State almost as soon as they graduated in 1971. The couple moved to Purcellville, Virginia, and while they had each other, they missed North Carolina. And their alma mater.
Other NC State alumni soon came to their relief. As more and more of the Bethels’ neighbors learned that they were part of the Pack, comments like “You should talk to so-and-so; they went there, too,” kept coming up in conversations. Soon, the Bethels were watching televised NC State sporting events with their newfound fellow graduates.
That sense of community, along with the great experiences Art and Mary had while on campus, also led the Bethels to want to give back to NC State financially. But first, a love story.
A Tale of Two Wolves
Art and Mary met while studying in the College of Natural Resources. Art was part of the college’s natural resources recreation management program; Mary, its former therapeutic recreation program. (Mary would go on to earn her master’s in adult education from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1982.)
Mary grew up participating in 4-H, so she had a deep appreciation for NC State even before she enrolled as a student because of its Extension program. Art was new to the Pack, moving to North Carolina from Ohio thanks to a football scholarship. They connected through their CNR courses, with Mary agreeing to share her notes with the young running back/defensive back.
The 1960s were an interesting time to be on campus. Big-name performers such as Chicago and Smokey Robinson were holding concerts in Reynolds Coliseum; Carter Stadium, renamed Carter-Finley Stadium in 1979, became the new home of Wolfpack football; and women were becoming a slightly more common sight across the once all-men’s university.
Art’s interest in his study partner was almost immediate; Mary, however, took a bit of convincing.
“He was really persistent,” Mary joked when asked how she ended up with her then-future husband. Art eventually got Mary to agree to a date by saying he had two fellow football players who also needed dates, and that he would take her out if she arranged for them to have dates, too. The gutsy offer worked, and Mary soon found dates for the other two gentlemen.
What Mary didn’t know at the time is that Art had suggested the same deal to a student at nearby Meredith College. She declined at first, so Art asked Mary instead, but then the Meredith student changed her mind. Art and the Meredith student did end up going out the weekend following his and Mary’s first date, but it was no contest. Art knew who he really wanted to be with, and Mary finally did, too.
The Bethels married shortly after they graduated and went on to have successful careers and a successful family together. Mary worked for many years in administration and advocacy for older adults and individuals with disabilities, and Art was primarily involved with agrisupply sales at the Wyatt-Quarles Seed Company. Their son, Craig, earned a master’s degree in architecture from NC State in 2010 and their daughter, Christie, studied education at the university.
The Bethels moved back to Raleigh after five and a half years in Virginia and still visit campus from time to time to watch a game, get Howling Cow ice cream or just generally observe how their alma mater continues to be a place where students can learn, grow and succeed. Mary also currently serves on the advisory board for the School of Social Work.
The couple has donated to NC State for 50 consecutive years, with their gifts supporting funds in the College of Natural Resources, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and other areas. They are passionate athletics donors, too, having contributed to the Wolfpack Club many times over those years.
Mary said their first gift happened soon after commencement. Money was tight for the young couple, but the Bethels were determined to stay connected with, and supportive of, the Pack. Five decades later, that is still their mindset and mission.
“Not many things last 50 years, whether it’s marriages or jobs or where you live,” Mary said. ”It gives us a sense of pride and maybe, hopefully, our little donation every year will make a difference somewhere down the road.”
For more information on how you can follow in Art and Mary’s footsteps as an annual NC State donor, please visit giving.ncsu.edu/how-to-give/annual-giving/ today.