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Retired dairy processor owner loves Appalachian

March 24, 2014

Jim Smith ’58 enjoys reflecting on his time as an Appalachian State University student. It was the friendly, social atmosphere of the campus that he said made the biggest impression on him when he first arrived as a freshman in 1952.

“I remember after chow hall everybody would lounge in the grass or go over to the gymnasium and do a little dancing or visiting,” Smith said. “I made a lot of good friends.”

In 1953, Smith was drafted to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Two years later, after being honorably discharged, he returned to Appalachian to complete his physical education and history degree and to marry his wife, Bettie.

After graduating in 1958, Smith went to work for Kraft Inc., where he worked for 28 years. In 1984, Smith and his partners started Dairy Fresh Inc., a Winston-Salem-based dairy processing plant, which they sold in 1996.

After selling Dairy Fresh, Smith and his wife retired in Cornelius. Wanting to do something in his spare time, Smith and a friend built Northcross Lanes at The Lake, a family bowling center in Huntersville, in 2006. He sold it in 2013.

“Appalachian means a lot to me,” Smith said. “It led the way for me. It was a great university to go to and it still is. It gets better every year.”

Smith said he always knew that if he ever had the chance, he would find a way to pay it forward to the university he loves. And through his generous contributions to athletics at Appalachian, especially to baseball, he has done that.

Smith also has supported the Yosef Club and the McKinney Alumni Center as well as academic and athletic scholarships.

“Appalachian certainly gave to me, and I’ve been able to give back a little because good fortune happened to come my way,” he said.

Smith was a member of the Athletics Enhancement Committee from 2005 to 2011 and a member of the Yosef Club Advisory Board from 1990 to 2003. In 2008, Appalachian’s baseball stadium was completed and named the Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium, after Smith and his wife.

Now retired, Smith enjoys playing golf and is a 32nd degree Freemason and lifetime member of American Legion Post 287. The Smiths have three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They live in Davidson and will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary June 9.