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Adelaide Fortune Holderness Fellowship

The following biography was written at the time of this scholarship establishment; some information may not be up to date:

Adelaide Holderness was a 1934 graduate of Woman’s College (now the University of North Carolina Greensboro). She had a long history of involvement with and service to higher education. She served from 1967 to 1972 on the Board of Trustees of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. When that system was reconstructed, Mrs. Holderness was named a member of the UNC Board of Governors, on which she served from 1972 to 1983. She was appointed to the UNCG Board of Trustees in 1985. She held volunteer positions with the House Committee for the UNCG Alumni Association, the Board of Directors for the Weatherspoon Gallery Association, and was the co-chair of the Second Century Campaign for UNCG. Among her honors, Mrs. Holderness received the honorary doctor of laws degree from UNCG in 1975, the Stewart Award for alumni volunteer involvement from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (1996), the Centennial Award from UNCG (1992), the Greensboro Woman of the Year Award from the Quota Club (1982), and the Alumni Service Award from UNCG (1967). The UNCG Board of Governors gave her its 1984 University Award, the highest honor which the board can bestow for recognition of service to higher education.

Adelaide was woman of strong faith, fine character, and true beauty. Her curiosity and sense of humor attracted friends of all ages. Most importantly, beloved “Tutu” was a devoted wife and the remarkable matriarch of 88 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Adelaide was born on January 10, 1913 to the late Alexander Fletcher Fortune, M.D. and Edna Wootten Fortune. She was preceded in death by her husband, Howard “Chick” Holderness, and her brother, Dr. Benjamin F. Fortune. She is survived by her children and their many descendants, including Lucinda Holderness of Chapel Hill; Howard Holderness, Jr. and wife, Mary, of Greensboro; Sandra Davis and husband, Lawrence, of Raleigh; and Richard Holderness and wife, Julie, and Pam Hassenfelt and husband, Steve, all of Greensboro.

Adelaide was a proud, lifelong resident of Greensboro. She attended Greensboro Senior High and graduated from Woman’s College in 1934. Adelaide and Chick married in 1936 and began a wonderful 56-year love story. They adored and respected each other and always centered their lives on faith, family, and community. Both served as active leaders in First Presbyterian Church and would often tell their children, “service is the rent we pay for God’s gift of living on this earth.”

Adelaide was a firm believer in civic responsibility and dedicated much of her time to the betterment of her community. She was the former president of the Junior League and served on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Home Society, United Arts Council, Community Chest, YWCA, and the Council of Social Agencies. She was named Greensboro’s Woman of the Year in recognition of her leadership in civic affairs. As a loyal daughter of North Carolina, she loved her work as president of the North Carolina Museum of History Associates and as a member of the Tryon Palace Commission.

Her most enduring community legacy will be her tireless work on behalf of higher education in North Carolina. In addition to her service on the UNCG Board of Trustees, Adelaide was the chair of the Alumni Association, board member of the Weatherspoon Gallery Association, leader of the Centennial Planning Board, and the catalyst in establishing four major scholarship programs, including the Holderness Fellowships for graduate study in the arts.

Her passion for higher education extended beyond her alma mater to the larger UNC system. Adelaide was one of the first women selected for the newly consolidated Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina and was elected to the restructured UNC Board of Governors. She was the first woman to have a major leadership role on the board, serving as vice chairman from 1976-1980. Adelaide and Chick’s interest and generosity extended to support for medical education at UNC. They established the Alexander F. Fortune Biomedical Computation Center in 1970 and the Holderness Medical Fellowship Program in 1981 to provide additional training to promising medical students. In 1984, Adelaide and Chick became the first couple to receive the University Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the UNC Board of Governors.

Adelaide passed away in December 2013.