Meredith College mourns the loss of alumna Ida Friday, ’41, widow of former UNC System President William Friday, and an important figure in North Carolina history in her own right. Mrs. Friday died on February 6, 2017, at age 97.
Ida Friday served the UNC System from 1956-86 and her community in a variety of ways, including as the first president of the Chapel Hill Preservation Society, and as board member of the League of Women Voters, the Orange County Women’s Center, the North Carolina Symphony, and the national board of the American Dance Festival.
In a 2010 interview with Meredith Magazine, William Friday said the luckiest day of his life was the day his wife decided to attend Meredith. The couple met while she studied at the College, resulting in a marriage that lasted for seven decades, until William Friday’s death in 2012.
“Meredith is a wonderful institution that gave Ida opportunities of a lifetime,” said William Friday in that interview. “She came from a tobacco farm family and wound up as the first lady of a university system. That was quite an achievement.”
In recognition of the important role Meredith College played in their lives, the Friday family established The Ida H. Friday Fund in 2010, in honor of Mrs. Friday and her love for Meredith. The fund supports faculty development, with preference given to faculty members who are early in their careers. The recipient each year is able to use the funds to support the faculty member’s general advancement, through travel or advanced study of the topic of his or her choice.
Ida Friday is survived by her daughters Fran Friday and Mary Leadbetter, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.