The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 24, 2013

Joel Bourne

Community leader, conservationist leaves legacy of service to others

The Daily Southerner
Staff reporter

TARBORO — Tarboro community leader Joel K. Bourne, 87, died Sunday morning. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Calvary Episcopal Church .

While he was active in a number of organizations and supported a number of causes, Mr. Bourne was perhaps best known for his leadership role in the development of the Tarboro Veterans Memorial and the Edgecombe County Military Veterans Museum and the saving of the Colonial Theater.

Mr. Bourne, along with Col. J.W. Wood, led a campaign to raise $80,000 to construct the veterans memorial on the west end of the Town Common. The granite memorial, which incorporates six flagpoles for the flags of the branches of the military with a larger flagpole in the center for the United States flag, was dedicated Nov. 11, 2002.

Since the dedication, Mr. Bourne, as a member of the Golden K Kiwanis, had been a regular attendee at the monthly flag raisings to honor the memory of Edgecombe County veterans.

He was also active in the development of the veterans’ museum and was an active supporter, often on the scene during memorial brick layings and always helping in any way possible.

Several years ago, Mr. Bourne purchased the Colonial Theater and gave it to the museum — then started working to obtain chairs and flooring and to raise funds for the renovation of the facility, which was built in 1919.

At the time, a member of the museum board said, “Joel does so many things in this community. There are many who benefit from him because he doesn’t care who gets credit, just that something gets done.”

Last September, Mr. Bourne, a lifelong proponent of conservation and protection of the Tar-Pamlico River, was presented the Great Blue Heron Award by the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation.

Mr. Bourne committed his life to service. He was a leader in numerous local organizations, some of which he helped establish. These included the Edgecombe County Democratic Party, Calvary Episcopal Church, St. Michael's Episcopal Church, the Edgecombe Forestry Club, the Edgecombe County Bee Keepers Association, the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, the local chapters of the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, the Golden K Kiwanis Club, and the Edgecombe County Veterans' Military Museum, among others.

For his lifelong service to the community, Mr. Bourne was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame in 2008.