Claudia Watkins Belk

Claudia Watkins Belk

Claudia Erwin Watkins Belk, retired district court judge and wife of the late Charlotte Mayor and business leader John M. Belk, died February 8, 2017 at Sharon Towers in Charlotte.

Claudia was a loving and devoted daughter, wife, aunt, mother and grandmother with a strong and caring spirit who made a positive difference in her family and community through her many extraordinary endeavors and achievements. She enjoyed life to the fullest and brought much happiness to her family and wide circle of friends.

Claudia was born on July 10, 1937 in Durham, NC, daughter of the late Claudia Powe Watkins and Warren Byers Watkins, who was a tobacco wholesaler. Following graduation from Durham High School, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Hollins College (now Hollins University) in Roanoke, VA, and was one of only two women to receive her Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963.

Claudia moved to Charlotte immediately after law school and became a trailblazer for women in the legal profession. She established her own private law practice and served for three years as assistant clerk of Mecklenburg County Superior Court before her election in 1968 to a four-year term as district court judge for the 26th Judicial District.

Claudia’s life was changed forever when she met John Belk in 1968 at a reception hosted by the Democratic Women in Charlotte, just before John began his first campaign to become Mayor of Charlotte. The two fell in love (John often referred to her as his “Sweet ole girl”) and the two “hizzoners” were married February 20, 1971 at St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in Durham, NC. The headline of a tongue-in-cheek local newspaper article read, “John Belk Gets Life Sentence” with a summons from his wife-to-be “committing him to the institution of matrimony for the rest of his natural life.”

In the years ahead, Claudia and John became one of Charlotte’s most respected and influential couples, and Claudia was dedicated to supporting John in his role as Mayor and as top executive of the Belk department store organization, which he led for more than 50 years and which became the nation’s largest privately owned department store companies, and one of the most successful of its type.

Claudia was also dedicated to her home and family, nurturing their daughter Mary Claudia “MC” Belk Pilon through her formative years, and enjoying hobbies that included needlepoint, cooking and growing roses. She was also committed to making her community a better place.

Claudia served on the board of directors of the John M. Belk Endowment, the Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center, the NC Zoo Society, The Belk Foundation and on the boards of trustees of Hollins University, Queens University and Charlotte Country Day School.

In 2007, Hollins University established the Claudia Watkins Belk International Scholars Endowment in her honor and through her efforts the John M. Belk Educational Endowment made a major donation to the school’s “Campaign for Women Who Are Going Places” fundraising campaign. In 2014, the John M. Belk family gave a gift to Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center to support the construction of the John M. and Claudia W. Belk Heart and Vascular Institute.

Claudia also provided support and leadership to numerous other charitable and community organizations, including the Central Piedmont Community College Foundation, the Alexander Children’s Center, the North Carolina Nature Conservancy, the Duke Mansion, the Arts and Writing Foundation, United Family Services and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In 2000, Central Piedmont Community College dedicated its public safety division building in Huntersville as the “Claudia Watkins Belk Center for Justice.” Early in her law career, she was honored as one of Charlotte’s Outstanding Career Women in the field of law and government and as one of the nation’s Outstanding Young Career Women.

She is survived by a daughter, Mary Claudia “MC” Belk Pilon, and her husband Jeffrey Neal Pilon; three grandchildren, James Montgomery Pilon, John Michael Pilon and Katherine Belk Pilon; sisters-in-law, Mary Helen Watkins, Sarah Belk Gambrell and Katherine Belk Cook; brother-in-law, Irwin Belk; Watkins nieces and nephews, Mary Elfreth Watkins, Susan Watkins and F.H. Ahlborn, Suzy and Warren Watkins, III and Palmer Shelburne Watkins; and Belk nieces and nephews, Katie and Walker Morris, Sarah and Tim Belk, Nina and McKay Belk, Kim and Johnny Belk, Sally Belk Gambrell, Donna and Tommy Belk, Cecelia and Paul Belk, Connie Belk, Pam and Jay Belk, Mary Belk and John Melton, Margaret and Paul Tierney, Georgia and Bill Belk, Irene and Dean Miltimore, Marilyn and Edward Wallis, Beth and Carl Belk, and Diane and Henry Belk.

Claudia was predeceased by her husband, John M. Belk; her parents; and two brothers, Warren Byers Watkins, Jr. and Edward Powe Watkins.

Claudia was a devoted member and elder at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 2501 Oxford Place in Charlotte, where a funeral service and celebration of her life will be held Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 10 a.m. The family will greet friends following in Oxford Hall. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the HopeWay Foundation, 1717 Sharon Road West, Charlotte, NC 28210. The funeral arrangements are being handled by Harry & Bryant.

Published in Charlotte Observer from Feb. 9 to Feb. 11, 2017




Carl William Knobloch, Jr.

Carl William Knobloch, Jr.Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. of Wilson, Wyoming and Atlanta, Georgia died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on November 22nd.

Born April 16, 1930 to Lily Louise Smith and Carl William Knobloch, Sr., he grew up on a farm in Stamford, Connecticut where he learned the value of hard work and to adore the great outdoors.

Carl graduated from the Hill School, Yale College and the Harvard Business School where he was a George Fisher Baker Scholar. At Yale, he captained the fencing team, was the Intercollegiate Sabre Champion and an All-American.

From fencing, he learned “extreme focus, control and precision. These skills make for both a meaningful athletic career and a productive life.” He was always grateful for his Coach “Papa” Grasson.

He was devoted to business, the great outdoors and his family. Carl loved adventure and was guided by an entrepreneurial spirit. He initiated his first business ventures on the farm.

After graduating from Harvard Business School, he started Central Africa’s first drive-in movie theater and Rhodesia Chemical Corporation in present-day Zimbabwe.

Carl sold those businesses and returned to New York where he worked as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers and then Kidder Peabody. He had the greatest admiration for his boss, the late Albert Gordon, Chairman of Kidder Peabody.

In 1957, Carl met and married Emily Champion, his beloved partner in life. Initially, these two Connecticut Yankees settled in New York City.

In 1961, Carl went to run a bankrupt company building small rural homes in the South that he and his friends had invested in based out of Jacksonville, Florida. He had found his calling in work, investing and turning around businesses.

He then led companies in finance, real estate and oilfield services and production including US Finance, GAMI and Production Operators and was Chairman of Automated Logic and Rhodes Furniture.

In all these businesses, he always believed that employees should be equity owners so all prospered together. He was a Director of numerous companies including General Instrument Corporation.

Carl loved the outdoors, initially on the farm, then hunting and fishing as a child in New England and as an adult all over the world. He learned taxidermy, preserving butterflies and birds, mentored by a friend who worked at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. His love of fly-fishing led him to start tying his own flies, many of which were sold to Abercrombie & Fitch.

His family thought he would someday become a curator of a natural history museum. Hard work in the yard most weekends was a favorite way to be outdoors later in life as well as taking his three girls on outdoor adventures.

He has given back in so many ways including as Director and Treasurer of the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, Shepherd Spinal Center, Georgia Girl Scouts Council and the National Council of Better Business Bureaus; Chairman of the Republican Party of Georgia, Reagan’s election committee in Georgia, and Director of the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole.

He was grateful for all that God had given him and he formed a foundation dedicated solely to preserving land and wild spaces for animals and to valuing our natural resources.

At the American Museum of Natural History, where he spent many happy hours as a boy, Theodore Roosevelt’s words inspired him and summarized well his mission with the Knobloch Family Foundation, “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired, in value.”

He is survived by his devoted wife of 59 years Emily, dear barking Knobby, brother Bill Knobloch (Audrey) and sister Sylvia Brown, his three daughters Carla Knobloch, Emily Knobloch (Robert Berlin) and Eleanor Knobloch Ratchford (Tom) and his two devoted grandsons Joseph Thomas Ratchford III and James William Ratchford.

He is also survived by Stevens Sharkey, a nephew who was a son to him, as well as eight nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, if you wish, please give to a charity of your choice.

A memorial service and celebration of Carl’s life will be held on Monday, November 28th at 11am at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. A private burial at Putnam Cemetery in Greenwich, Connecticut will be held at a later date.

William Tatem “Bill” Quillen

William Tatem “Bill” Quillen, age 81, died suddenly and peacefully on August 19. In addition to his parents, Robert James Quillen, Sr. and Gladys Tatem Quillen, he was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Marcia Everhart Stirling Quillen; his brother, Robert James Quillen, Jr.; and his nephew, Robert Irvine Quillen.

Bill is survived by his daughters, Carol Everhart Quillen (George McLendon) and Tracey Tatem Quillen (John Carney); his grandchildren, Caitlin Everhart Lohrenz, Samuel Quillen Carney, and James Tatem Stirling Carney; his sister-in-law, Barbara Flinn Quillen; his niece Anne Quillen Donecker and her family; and his Tatem and Quillen cousins.

Bill grew up in New Castle, where his father and uncle, and then his brother, ran Quillen Brothers Ford from 1926 through 1982. For Bill, New Castle was essential to his identity, and his father and brother remained his heroes and role models of “usefulness” throughout his life. He was a lifelong member of and adulthood leader in the New Castle Presbyterian Church.

Bill graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 1952, and considered his Quaker education and the friends it brought him another foundation of his identity. He was legendary for keeping his classmates in touch with him and with each other, and greatly enjoyed their recent tradition of annual reunions in Florida.

He graduated from his equally beloved Williams College in 1956, received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School, and an LL.M. from The University of Virginia School of Law. He was grateful to Marcia’s parents for sharing “The Pink House” in Ocean City, NJ, so generously with him, and he enjoyed his time there continuing through this summer.

Bill was a devoted fan and, with his family, longtime season ticket holder of University of Delaware football. He yelled at the radio and television through countless Phillies and Eagles games. He was a fan of the original Blue Rocks and enjoyed enlightening all who might not know about the greatness of Robin Roberts. Bill was always among the most loyal—and loudest—Friends School sports fans; as he said, “I fell in love with the School in seventh grade when someone handed me a football uniform.” He also played basketball and baseball, and received the School’s “Spirit Cup,” not for the best athlete but for best representing the spirit of Friends athletics.

He cheered for the Quakers, including his daughters and grandsons, every season of his life, and made great friends among his bleacher buddies. He was especially proud to have had a chance to nominate Coach Bob “T” Tattersall, with whom he rehashed every football game, for the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame. He also traveled to Texas to see his granddaughter compete in cross country and track, and was proud to attend her 2015 graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In recent years, since his daughter, Carol, became President of Davidson College, he added the Wildcats and then, via Steph Curry, the Warriors, to his athletic devotions, and was grateful for the welcome to the Davidson family he and Marcia received from Coach Bob McKillop and his players.

A Roosevelt-Kennedy Democrat, Bill had a passion for politics and history, and considered staying informed to be both an obligation and a joy of citizenship. He devoured news, often reading aloud to whoever was in earshot from the paper and non-fiction books. He was a genuinely public-minded and -spirited person; it was instinctive to him to weigh the common good first.

He had one political campaign of his own, running for Governor in 1984, and was involved in many more, including the careers of Vice President Joe Biden and of his son-in-law, Congressman John Carney.

Bill was more than once accused of not being able to hold a job, with the recognition that he always had a good one. He started as an officer in the JAG Corps of the United States Air Force and then served as a law clerk to Judge Charles Terry, before working briefly but gratefully as an Associate at Richards, Layton & Finger. He became counsel to then-Governor Terry, who appointed Bill, at just 31 years old, to the Delaware State Superior Court.

Bill thereafter was known to most Delawareans as “Judge.” He served on each of the State’s major courts, including as Chancellor and as a Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. He had what he modestly described as an 11-year “frolic” in the private and political sectors—working in the Trust Department at Wilmington Trust; serving proudly, and again most gratefully, as a Partner at Potter, Anderson & Corroon; running for Governor; serving as General Counsel of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, then the world’s largest charity; and teaching Ethics and Constitutional Law, and one course for daring undergraduates, at Widener University.

He returned to full-time public service when he was appointed as Delaware’s Secretary of State by then-Governor Tom Carper, who completed the professional circle by appointing Bill once again as a Judge on Delaware’s Superior Court. After what many thought was his retirement, Bill found new valued colleagues, formal and informal, at Drinker Biddle & Reath and at the firm then known as Seitz, Ross, Aronstam & Moritz.

At the time of his death, Bill was working on a biography of Collins J. Seitz with his friend and Judge Seitz’s son, Supreme Court Justice, New Castle resident, and leader in the New Castle Presbyterian Church, C.J. Seitz.

Along the way, there were numerous influential opinions, incorporations, overseas trips on behalf of the State; visits to leading academic medical centers across the country to help chart the future of medical research; service to the World Affairs Council and the legal community; the planning and building of a $75 million headquarters for Hughes, the planning of the Delaware Archives; a book about the Delaware Court of Chancery and many articles; the preservation and celebration of the history of New Castle; awards, recognitions, and terms of charitable and corporate board service. Of special value to Bill were the Order of the First State, the Delaware Heritage Award, and the Friends School Alumni of the Year Award.

But what Bill was most grateful for were the mentors and colleagues who gave him opportunities to contribute, and the clerks, students, and young lawyers to whom he was able to offer guidance; as he said, “anyone younger than I am is young.” Bill’s family would like to thank all of you, past and present. Leaving out many who deserve to be mentioned, we especially thank Vice President Joe Biden; Governors Terry, Tribbitt, du Pont, Castle, and Carper, who made Bill’s judicial appointments, and the members of the Senate who supported them; Irv Shapiro, Charlie Crompton, Bruce Stargatt, Jim Gilliam, Rod Ward, Jack Porter, Fred Pardee, and the rest of the Class of 1952; the Presidents and Law Deans of Widener University; the partners of Potter Anderson, Drinker Biddle, and Seitz Ross; Ned Davis, Jim McGinnis, Darrell Baker, Lin Herndon, Jim Soles, Frank Biondi, Henry Topel, Vince Bifferato, Frank Balotti, Norman Veasey, Jean Ashe Crompton, and all of his law clerks and “younger” friends who continued to inspire him as a lifelong learner and leader.

We are also comforted that Bill and his beloved Marcia are together again, grateful that he was blessed to live and die as he would have chosen and for his personal as well as professional legacy,

Family and friends are invited to a memorial service at New Castle Presbyterian Church on Saturday, August 27, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in Bill’s memory to either New Castle Presbyterian Church (23 East Second Street, New Castle DE 19720) or Wilmington Friends School (101 School Road, Wilmington DE 19803).

For online condolences please visit;

Published in The News Journal from Aug. 22 to Aug. 26, 2016