Opening Doors: Mary C. Bullock ’47 and George P. Bullock ’47 Business Scholarship honors Elon alumni

The "Opening Doors" series celebrates the power of scholarships to change the lives of Elon students and the generosity of donors who make this transformation possible.


George Bullock ‘47 had just returned home from World War II when he walked into the office of then-Elon College president Leon Smith with plans to enroll. A student working there part time captured the young man’s attention. George was so captivated by the former Mary Baxley Coxe that he asked if he could leave his knapsack at the office while he ran errands around campus. It was an excuse to go back and see her later.

Upon graduation, Mary Coxe became Mary Bullock ‘47, a union that also sparked a lifetime love for Elon.

“Elon was always very important to them, clearly. It’s where they met. They have fond memories of all that,” says the couple’s daughter, Mary Coble, who joined her father in endowing the Mary C. Bullock ’47 and George P. Bullock ’47 Business Scholarship. The merit-based scholarship will be awarded annually to academically talented students in Elon University’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.

Mary Bullock graduated from Elon with a degree in business while George earned a degree in biology. He later graduated from Auburn University’s veterinary school. The couple ultimately moved to New Bern, North Carolina, where Mary became a high school English and business teacher and later guidance counselor before moving into a successful career in real estate. Dr. George Bullock opened a veterinary practice that focused not only on small animals but the largest dairy herd in North Carolina at that time. He is now retired and living in New Bern.

Mary Coble said her father chose to endow a business scholarship after Mary Bullock passed away in June of 2017. “I thought that was a wonderful way to honor her,” she says.

Recipients of the Mary C. Bullock ’47 and George P. Bullock ’47 Business Scholarship will be selected by the dean of the Love School of Business in conjunction with the Office of Financial Planning. The scholarship can be renewed based on a student’s continued academic success in the Love School of Business.

Passion for service

Mary Coxe Bullock died on June 9, 2017, at age 92 as one of New Bern’s most successful business and civic leaders. She was among New Bern’s first female real estate agents and a founding member of the New Bern Preservation Foundation as well as a developer of the Historic Homes and Gardens Tour. She was heavily involved in the New Bern Historic Foundation and the New Bern Chamber of Commerce.

Preserving historic homes in the coastal town was a passion for her mother, Mary Coble says. “New Bern has a lot of old houses. She saw value in saving them. She tried her best to keep those houses alive and renovate them. It was part of the revitalization of New Bern.”

Church was also a passion for the Bullocks. They were members of Centenary United Methodist Church in New Bern for more than 63 years and Mary was especially active on church committees. She served on the church Board of Trustees, as a delegate to the Annual Conference and was a longtime member of the Memorial Committee. She played a role in the church’s education building, parlor, library and parsonage. Her last project was the creation of a columbarium.

“She was very active in everything,” her daughter says. “When she got something on her mind, by golly she got it to happen. She was very determined and very much a visionary on a lot of things.”

"A real leader"

That dedication to service was also a mark of her time as a student at Elon. She arrived on campus from a small community in Scotland County, North Carolina.

“She was a real leader,” says Jo Watts Williams ‘55, vice president emerita and professor of education emerita at Elon University. When Williams first enrolled at Elon College, the Bullocks were upperclassmen. Later she was in a sorority with Mary Bullock and socialized with members of the fraternity George joined. “They were very active in student affairs and student government," Williams said. "Mary was very popular.”

Williams was close to the Bullocks during her time at Elon and in the decades after. She and Mary Bullock lived on the third floor of West dormitory and became “very good friends.” She recalls Mary as very studious, engaged in campus life and busy. She worked in multiple campus offices part time as a student.

A scholarship to a similarly hard-working and successful Elon student seems appropriate. “They were both so loyal to Elon and happy at Elon,” Mary Coble says. “They loved it.”