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Endowed Scholarship with PCC Foundation to Honor Memory of Alumnus Charles Coburn

Navy veteran Charles Coburn salutes the flag and stands at attention as the national anthem is played during PCC's Veterans Day program in 2007. A Purple Heart recipient, Coburn regularly attended the annual ceremony to honor the nation's military, past and present.WINTERVILLE—Family and friends of the late Charles R. Coburn have found a way to honor the longtime Pitt Community College basketball coach’s life while supporting students at his alma mater at the same time.

Last week, Susan Nobles, PCC Vice President of Institutional Advancement, announced that the Charles R. Coburn Memorial Endowment Fund had been established with the PCC Foundation through contributions from Coburn’s family and friends. She said scholarships awarded through the permanent, growing endowment fund would go to children and grandchildren of military veterans at PCC for many years to come.

“The establishment of an endowed scholarship in memory of PCC alumnus Charles Coburn is particularly special for the PCC Foundation,” Nobles said. “Coach Coburn served his country with distinction militarily before spending much of his life in service to his alma mater and community. This is a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much of himself to the benefit of so many while expecting nothing in return.”

Coburn, a 1973 business administration graduate, passed away Feb. 21, 2013 at age 65, leaving behind his wife, Wanda, six children, two stepchildren and 14 grandchildren.

A Pitt County native and 1965 graduate of Belvoir-Falkland High School, Coburn’s life would be forever marked by his U.S. Navy deployment to Vietnam, where he was critically wounded by a mortar explosion and spent nine months recovering from his injuries.

Despite the loss of his right arm in the explosion, Coburn would go on to play basketball for two seasons at PCC and five seasons of semi-pro baseball in Texas. He later coached basketball at his alma mater for 14 seasons and became the college’s first athletic director.

“To many, my father may have physically appeared to be a broken man from the fateful encounter (in Vietnam) on July 2, 1969,” said Cam Coburn, Charles Coburn’s son and a PCC alumnus. “To me, he was a man who showed the world that obstacles can be overcome through perseverance and determination.

“My father’s service to his country did not come without a price. I will always be proud of the way he served his country.”

Perhaps most remarkable about Charles Coburn’s PCC service is that it was all done voluntarily. In addition to basketball, he coached softball, golf and tennis for several years at Pitt and also umpired baseball games in eastern North Carolina for 41 years.

On behalf of the State of North Carolina, former Gov. Jim Martin presented Coburn with a certificate of appreciation for his volunteer service in 1988. Six years later, he received PCC’s Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000, the college named its new gymnasium for him.

“Next to his country, my father’s love for PCC and athletics was evident through his continual service through many roles,” Cam Coburn said. “He faced many challenges, and never quit.

“This (endowed scholarship) will be a worthy way to honor his love for two of eastern North Carolina’s most valuable resources – our veterans and PCC.”

Students who apply for the Charles R. Coburn Endowed Scholarship may be enrolled full- or part-time in any program at PCC. They cannot be receiving federal financial assistance, however, and must have at least a 2.5 GPA and maintain it throughout the duration of their scholarship period. Preference will be given to applicants who have demonstrated notable community service.

The amount of each one-year, non-renewable scholarship will be determined in accordance with guidelines established by the PCC Foundation Scholarship Committee. Scholarship recipients may use the funds to pay for tuition, fees, books and other educational supplies and materials.

Those who would like to make contributions to the Charles R. Coburn Service Memorial Endowment Fund may send them to the following address: Pitt Community College Foundation, “Charles Coburn Endowed Scholarship,” P.O. Drawer 7007, Greenville, N.C. 27835.