Martha Guy was known throughout North Carolina and beyond as an icon and pioneer for women in the banking industry. A native of Newland, Guy served and led Avery County Bank for more than 60 years in every capacity from assistant cashier to president. She was inducted into the North Carolina Banking Hall of Fame in 2010 and has been honored by the North Carolina Bankers Association with its Legends in Banking Award.
Guy received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill and an associate degree from Lees-McRae College. After firmly establishing her banking career, Guy emerged as a community leader and benefactor. She served on the board of the Crossnore School since 1956 and received a governor’s appointment to the Avery County Board of Education during the turbulent period of school integration.
In 2011 Guy received the Honorary Alumni Award from the Appalachian Alumni Association. The award ceremony included a video with interviews from former MGSI students, one of whom said, "We joke a little bit that we're like her kids because she really has a huge interest in our success and you can feel that when you meet her the first time."
Guy’s leadership of and service to higher education has reached throughout the North Carolina Mountains. She served as a founding trustee of Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine. She also served on boards of directors and visitors at Appalachian State University, Lees-McRae College, Mars Hill College, Montreat College and Warren Wilson College. She has received honorary degrees from Appalachian and Montreat.
In addition to her time and wisdom, Guy also gave generously of her resources to higher education.
She was the founder of the Martha Guy Summer Institute for Future Business Leaders at Appalachian. Since 2004, the Martha Guy Summer Institute has brought some of the top high school juniors to Appalachian for an unparalleled opportunity to learn about business and develop leadership skills. She also supported the university’s Appalachian Summer Festival, Walker College of Business Dean’s Club, Harlan E. Boyles Memorial Fund, North Carolina Bankers Association Professorship, Chair of Banking Endowment and others.
“The size of Martha Guy’s collective gifts is indicative of her generosity,” said Deanne Smith, founding director of the Martha Guy Summer Institute. “That is measureable; immeasurable is the way her institute has inspired students and future business leaders through learning experiences and travel. Regardless of their background, all of the Martha Guy Summer Institute participants have said it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and Martha gave them that opportunity.”
Ms Guy passed away on October 12, 2019. Ms Guy stayed involved with the program up through July of 2019. She enjoyed meeting the participants in all but two of the program years. We were excited to have Ms. Guy attend the Walker College of Business Luncheon for the 2019 program. Ms. Guy personally support this program, interacting with the participants at the 2019 luncheon, where we also celebrated her 97th birthday.