Grady-White Boats gives largest donation to ECU Athletics

Greenville's Grady-White Boats has committed to the largest donation in ECU Athletics and Pirate Club history, the university announced Aug. 7. The amount of the gift was not disclosed.

The donation will fund a proposed state-of-the-art weight training facility that will be used by athletes in all sports.

In recognition of the gift, the ECU athletics complex will be named the Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus, according a university press release.

Five distinctive lighted entrance signs denoting the ECU Grady-White Boats Athletic Campus will be located at the main entrance to the athletics complex off Charles Boulevard, the entrance to Clark-LeClair Stadium, Fieldside Drive, Berkley and 14th Street, and Charles Boulevard and Ficklen Drive.

Grady-White Boats, founded in 1959, builds 26 models of sportfishing and recreational fiberglass boats at its plant in Greenville. The company has been privately owned by Marine Industry Hall of Fame member Eddie Smith and the Smith family since 1968.

Eddie Smith of Greenville, owner of Grady-White Boats

"We are incredibly grateful to Grady-White Boats and Eddie Smith for their generosity and investment in our athletics department," ECU Athletic Director John Gilbert said in the press release.

"Eddie's passion for eastern North Carolina and the Greenville community is undeniable. His generosity and commitment to our athletics department as we all endure these difficult times inspires me about what we can accomplish at this great university with the support of our community and alumni.

"This gift is a continuation of Grady-White Boats long-term investment in ECU."

📷: ECU Athletics, Grady-White Boats

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, is a former staff writer for The Daily Reflector, where she was editor of Her... magazine and Greenville: Life in the East and several other niche publications. Email her at