(Editor’s Note: The GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal citations, such as this one, are read to the audience at the Annual Alumni Luncheon and then presented as a keepsake to the recipients.)
Distinguished Service Medal Citation
Frances Angas Weaver ’49
It’s been said there is no more resourceful professional than a good librarian. We should have seen Fran Weaver coming at the time of her graduation in 1949. There was a little administrative mixup. Her diploma was delayed, and thus she fell off the list for football ticket applications. This was no ordinary time—it was the era of Choo Choo Justice ’50, and the Heels had a game with mighty Notre Dame in Yankee Stadium that fall. The ticket office had a 6,000-person waiting list. “No way,” she was told.
Fran doesn‘t even remember how she did it, but come game time in New York, she was there. Truth be known, she probably overcame bigger challenges two or three times a week. Doing the seemingly impossible is all in a librarian’s day’s work, and today we honor a true magician.
Fran went to work selling education as a field representative for her prep school alma mater, Packer Collegiate Institute, but within two years of graduation she was headed back to Chapel Hill with her husband, the late Fred H. Weaver ’37. Fran raised four children, and at a time when most people are starting to take it easy, she took a job with the UNC library as a graduate assistant in the manuscripts department. She set out to work on her masters in library science, which she received in 1977. She still had time to make a second home in the manuscripts collection for more than 20 years. When Fran retired in 1989, she was assistant University archivist, and she was the best kind of friend to the Friends of the Library.
Senior library staff realized early on the contributions Fran could make to the library, and during her tenure she was given cataloging challenges ranging from the Thomas Wolfe ’20 collection of manuscripts, to contributions to UNC’s Southern Oral History Program, and to the collection of political activist and close friend Allard K. Lowenstein ’49.
Colleagues watched her become absorbed in the life and writings of Wolfe, his family, and friends. Fran became an invaluable resource of information to Wolfe researchers, speaking to the Thomas Wolfe Society and other groups. Her knowledge and expertise were of significant help to researchers such as Pulitzer-winning author David Donald.
Along the way Fran also became executive secretary of the Friends of the Library. When Provost Charlie Morrow ’44 and his wife, Mary Nunn Morrow ’48 floated the idea of raising money for the library, it was Fran who shepherded an unrestricted permanent endowment now valued at more than $4.2 million.
Under Fran’s leadership of the growth and visibility of the Friends group, it became the
major private support group working on behalf of the Academic Affairs Library. Active solicitation of alumni and friends became more consistent and reached out to new audiences. Donor recognition programs began, from permanent plaques in Davis Library to the creation of the Louis Round Wilson Library Fellows group, which recognizes donors of $10,000 or more.
Michelle Fletcher ’78 (MBA), director of development for the Academic Affairs Library, marvels at the ways Fran used her knowledge and network of Carolina alumni and friends to encourage attention and generosity to the library. “I can’t tell you how much I valued working with her,” Michelle said. She trained me, not only in how it worked but in its culture and personalities. She cared so much about what she was doing and was so sincere that no one could say ‘no’ to her.”
The University recognized Fran with the C. Knox Massey Award for Distinguished Service in 1989, the year she retired. Even in retirement she continued her support, conducting several major oral history interviews of University leaders for the Southern Oral History Project during the Bicentennial.
Reference Historian Alice Cotten ’74 dedicated a volume of Max Perkins’ letters about Thomas Wolfe to her hero in the library. Alice said of Fran, “She was, and indeed still is, a role model for me, the kind of person I’d like to be when I grow up. She exemplifies the best qualities of service and research for which this University stands.”