When Dick Belkin graduated from Hillyer College in 1956, he couldn’t have imagined the path his life would take.
Belkin, who graduated from nearby Newington High School in 1951, nearly didn’t make it through college. He had to work for a year following high school to raise enough money before enrolling at Hillyer. He then completed his degree with the help of scholarship aid. “I promised myself that if I ever made a buck, I would give them back the money,” said Belkin.
It took almost forty years, but in 1995, Belkin and his wife Sherry endowed the Belkin Scholars program specifically for promising business students at the University. Additionally, the Belkins have made a planned gift that will add roughly $6,000 each year in perpetuity to that scholarship fund.
“After I retired, Sherry and I decided that it was important to pay back those folks at Hillyer College who gave me a scholarship,” said Belkin. “It’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done. We hope that the students who are selected to receive monies to pursue their academic interests will find careers that will be rewarding for them.”
Belkin found a career in the broadcasting industry that was very rewarding for him. Belkin studied pre-law at Hillyer but after graduating, he changed his career path and went to Syracuse University to pursue a master’s degree in television and radio broadcasting.
This was in 1956. No one really knew much about television because it was a brand new industry. Belkin thought it would be a great career but he was drafted and spent the next two years in Germany with the U.S. Army Special Services division. He toured Europe as an entertainer for the troops and later made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
“When I finally returned home, I got a job in broadcasting and the rest is history,” said Belkin.
Belkin started off at two television stations in upstate New York. He did a little bit of everything: directing, producing, advertising, and working as an on-air talent for a local children’s program. Eventually, he worked his way into a management role and became vice president and general manager for several stations owned by Lee Enterprises, Inc. Belkin was a pioneer in the field of closed-circuit television and even co-produced The Most Beautiful Woman in the World contest. It was the first time in history that people could vote by phone for any kind of radio or television contest.
“I started as a guy who pushed cameras around, and ended up as a guy who was running the whole show on stations from West Virginia to Hawaii,” Belkin said.
Belkin’s career in broadcasting lasted more than forty years, following which he and his partners operated the observation deck at the World Trade Center until the terrorist attack on 9/11. Today, he is retired but still keeps active and enjoys writing children’s books. His book Totally Twisted is now available on Amazon Kindle books. He writes under the pseudonym Captain Six, a children’s television character he played many years ago.
Belkin and his wife are happy to know that their planned gift will enhance the lives of children in the future.
“I’m happy to know that the funds we’re providing will support the kids who are going off to make this a better world,” said Belkin. “The world is counting on these graduates. They will be the leaders of the future. If we can play a small role in helping them, it would be terrific.”