Obituary of Edna Cobb
Edna Faye Pugh Cobb, a resident of The Cedars of Chapel, died on April 13 at UNC Memorial Hospital after a brief illness.
Edna Faye was born in Asheboro, North Carolina on September 9, 1937. She was the youngest of five children born to Jesse Thomas Pugh and Mary Ailene Fox Pugh. Her three brothers and one sister predeceased her.
Edna Faye attended Asheboro public schools and graduated from Asheboro High School in 1955. She studied two years in what is now UNC Greensboro and received a BA degree in Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill in 1959. At Carolina she was a very active member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and served on the Panhellenic Council and the Graham Memorial Activities Board. She also was an Air Force ROTC Angel.
Edna Faye loved to say that she picked up her husband at a bar which is sort of true. She was sitting at a table with some friends at the Rathskellar in Chapel Hill when she heard a young man she described as tall and handsome say he was driving up to Long Island in a few weeks. She walked over to his table, smiled that infectious smile of hers and asked if she could ride up to Long Island with him. The smile and the pretty blue eyes worked as usual and that was the beginning of the Edna Faye Pugh—Larry Cobb relationship which lasted almost sixty years.
After graduation Edna Faye worked as a probation officer in the Guilford County Domestic Relations Court. Larry was an Air Force Jag stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. They planned a June wedding until the Base Education Officer told Larry that Edna Faye could teach a 5th grade class at the base school for the second semester even though she was not certified.
Edna Faye and Larry were wed on January 30, 1960 at Central Methodist Church in Asheboro in a ceremony scheduled for 11 o’clock. Although there was a monsoon that day it was a typical Methodist ceremony that happened to start 45 minutes late because the father of the groom could not find the church, the groom’s brother could not be the second usher because he was helping the groom hide the getaway car and the groom fell in a puddle and got mud all over his rented trousers.
Edna Faye taught a 5th grade class consisting of the castoffs of the other 5th grade classes. After that she concentrated on learning to be a mother and then being one after her daughter Laura Georgette was born on December 14, 1960. She led a typical junior officer’s wife’s life until Larry completed his active duty tour in July 1962.
The family moved to Charlotte where Larry had joined a five man law firm. Edna Faye participated in bar activities but primarily was a homemaker and mother to both Laura and son Glenn Laurence who was born on September 14, 1963. She joined the American Association of University Women and supported the Nature Museum and Charlotte Symphony. She was active in Christ Church and worked in the nursery.
The Pugh family had been Democrats exclusively and the funeral home buried all the prominent ones with the Republicans being relegated to what Edna Faye described as inferior facilities. Larry was a born and bred Republican. It came as a surprise to him that a few weeks before he decided to run against the Senate pro tem in a race he knew he could not win., Edna Faye told him that she had decided to become a Republican. When she became a Republican she was all in as she was with everything she did. She became President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Republican Women’s Club, served on the state board and became a master at recruiting volunteers, coordinating mass mailings and neighborhood candidate coffees not just for Larry’s seven campaigns but for other candidates at the county, congressional, gubernatorial and presidential levels. As a result of her efforts and the efforts of hundreds more like her the minority Republican party took control of the County Commission, elected Congressmen and in 1972 elected the first Republican Governor of the century. Edna Faye was appointed to the North Carolina Railroad board and the North Carolina Zoo Authority. She was proud of the work she did in helping develop the North Carolina Zoo in her hometown and as recently as a few months ago listed helped “build” the Asheboro Zoo as her only important life event.
In actuality, Edna Faye’s most important achievement did not involve politics. Her dear friend, Joann Brickel, who had worked side by side with Edna Faye in Larry’s campaign, was told that she had terminal kidney disease and should just go home and die. That was a sentence she would not accept. The two Energizer Bunnies set out to create the Kidney Foundation of Mecklenburg County with a goal to build a dialysis center and create a transplant program at Charlotte Memorial Hospital. Federal funding was not available at this time so hospitals were reluctant to treat patients with chronic kidney disease. Despite that, they were able to convince business leaders to set up fundraisers and some of the most prominent doctors in North Carolina joined the cause. Sufficient funds were raised to build the dialysis unit and the transplant program was established. Joann received her new kidney but ironically it was rejected. However, countless numbers of people have received new lives as a result of their efforts and the support of hundreds more.
After Watergate, things were not good for the Republican Party at the national level or in Charlotte. Larry was able to win reelection in 1974, but there were only 8 Republicans in the General Assembly. Edna Faye worked hard in the unsuccessful Ford campaign and politics continued to be prominent in her life. Larry was the state chairman for George H. W. Bush in 1980 and Edna Faye gave her heart and soul to the unsuccessful effort.
When Congressman Jim Martin decided to run for Governor in 1984, Edna Faye became the office manager for Alex McMillan, a Charlotte business man who ran for Martin’s seat. Both were successful and Edna Faye became a full time state employee until she retired in 2002. Edna Faye was responsible for appointments to boards and commissions during the Martin Administration. Although this process is partisan by nature, Edna Faye was praised by both Republicans and Democrats for the professional manner in which she handled recommendations for appointments made by members of both parties.
After Martin left office, Edna Faye went to work for the Division of Aging where she was able to put her sociology degree to work. She worked with the Department of Insurance in the SHIIP Program (State Health Insurance Information Program) which advises senior citizens in matters involving Medicare and other health insurance programs. She truly enjoyed helping others.
After Edna Faye retired and Larry was a part time lawyer, they were able to continue their travels which had started as Mystery Trips while Edna Faye was in the Governor’s office. These were some of their happiest times together. They rented cars and drove throughout Europe, took guided tours of Ireland and Scotland, made an on your own trip to Rio de Janeiro which they thought was to be a guided tour, and took more than twenty cruises. These travels ended in January 2017 when they took a cruise and Edna Faye was unable to comprehend where she was or what she was doing.
In March 2013, Edna Faye and Larry moved into The Cedars of Chapel Hill while her doctor was still able to certify that she was capable of independent living. She was able to go to exercise classes and water aerobics for quite a while but stopped one day and would never go back. She would not say why, but others in her classes think that she got lost one day trying to walk back to her villa. Her condition deteriorated until it was no longer safe to leave her by herself. She celebrated her 80th birthday on September 9, 2017 and entered the mental health assisted living on September 11 where she remained until her death. Her dementia took her memory and her physical strength away, but not her ability to make quips. When she was in the Emergency Room and the doctor finally got to her and asked how she was she immediately replied “I guess I’m sick.”
Edna Faye received a death sentence when she was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment years ago. She fought a courageous but unwinnable battle against a vicious incurable disease. As we celebrate Edna Faye’s life, we should also celebrate her death—the death of that hollow shell that was all that was left of a beautiful and talented woman.
The family is indebted to the nurses, aides and doctors at DuBose who provided excellent care during her stay. The family is especially thankful to Dr. Tim Carey, Edna Faye’s personal physician and friend who guided her through her transition from beginning to end and to Dr. Heidi Roth, her neurologist, who helped to stay the progress of her disease.
Edna Faye is survived by her husband, Larry Cobb; daughter Laura Cobb Ditrich and husband Gunnar, Charlotte, NC; son Glenn Cobb and wife Lori, Leesburg, VA; grandson Charles Creason and wife Beth, Unionville, NC; grandson Gordon Cobb, Chapel Hill, NC; granddaughter Jessie Cobb, Leesburg, VA; and numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Edna Faye’s body will be cremated at the Pugh Funeral Home in Asheboro with a private service for family members and invited close friends. An internment service will be held on Saturday, April 28 at 2:00 pm at Christ Episcopal Church, 1412 Providence Road, Charlotte. A reception will follow at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the UNC School of Social Work (https://give.unc.edu); Eastern North Carolina Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association, 5171 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 101, Raleigh NC 27612; or to a charity of your choice.