James G. “Jim” Babb and Mary Lou Babb have made enormous contributions to the educational, cultural and charitable institutions in our community. Their compassion, vision, and generosity have touched the lives of thousands of Charlotteans in arenas including the arts, education, business and social services. At a May 25 ceremony, Jim and Mary Lou Babb became the first couple to be honored with the UNC Charlotte Distinguished Service Award.
“Jim and Mary Lou Babb do not seek accolades. They are motivated instead by a desire to leave their community better off than they found it,” said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “Their tireless efforts have helped make our community and this University greater. Through your careers and volunteerism, you have touched countless lives.”
As a young G.I. in 1955, Jim Babb landed a position writing press releases for $65 a week at WBTV in Charlotte. He later moved on to a job selling advertising for WBT Radio. He quickly rose through the ranks of the radio station, and then the TV station before being named president and CEO of Jefferson-Pilot Communications’ television and radio operations. Jim left Jefferson-Pilot in 1991 to serve as chairman, president and CEO of Outlet Communications, Inc. He is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer of Bahakel Communications, Ltd.
– Chancellor Philip L. Dubois
In 1960 Jim married Mary Lou Davis. Active in numerous community activities, Mary Lou has served in key leadership positions benefiting educational, cultural and social service organizations throughout the Charlotte community. Mary Lou is a former chair of the board of trustees of the Mint Museum of Art and was appointed interim director of the museum during a time of leadership transition. She also co-founded The Women’s Impact Fund in 2003, which helps women reach their monetary giving potential while meeting community needs.
Both Jim and Mary Lou have led efforts to ensure equity and access to education in the Charlotte public schools and at institutions of higher education in the region. In addition, they have contributed to the academic and athletic life of UNC Charlotte. Mary Lou was the first chair of the Let Me Play women’s athletics fundraising event, and Jim produced the first telecast of a UNC Charlotte basketball game. He also chaired the alumni division of the University’s first Capital Campaign.
In tandem with success in business and dedication to service, Jim and Mary Lou find great personal satisfaction in family. The couple enjoys spending time with their five grown children and six grandchildren.
The Babbs have consistently led their family and community by example, demonstrating persistence, fortitude, honesty, integrity and generosity of spirit in the quest to create a more vibrant, equitable society for all.
Photo by Wade Bruton.