Neil Lowell Coburn, 59, died December 13, 2013, in a Houston hospital after an 18-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. His steadfast brother Keith was by his side. Neil was buried in the Coburn family plot at Sterling-White cemetery in Crosby, Texas. On December 19, 2013, a small group of family and friends met for a graveside service officiated by Rev. Michael Proctor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Neil’s childhood church home.
A memorial service to honor Neil, God, family, and friendship will be held on the evening of Thursday, January 9, 2014, at Crespo-Jirrels Funeral Home on Garth Road in Baytown. Visitation with the family will begin at 4p.m. followed at 5p.m. by a service in the Crespo Chapel. The family requests that friends bring photos and momentos to share and warm, funny stories to tell about Neil at the end of the service.
Neil was born in Baytown, Texas, on November 16, 1954, to Fredna Fraser Coburn and Stephen Parker Coburn. He was the youngest of four children. Neil attended school in Baytown, graduating from Robert E. Lee High School in 1973. He attended Lee College, The University of Texas in Austin, and Texas State College, where he graduated in 1976 with a degree in Education and English. He completed a Master’s degree in Education Management at the University of Houston, Clear Lake, in 1991. He taught Reading and English for 16 years in Baytown at David Crockett Elementary School and Gentry Junior School. Later he taught remedial English at Houston Community College.
Neil had a talent and love for music, always singing in church, school, and community choirs. He enjoyed all types of music and theater. He also enjoyed reading and traveling and volunteer work in the Montrose community of Houston, serving on the planning council of the Ryan White Foundation to assist anyone whose life was affected by HIV.
Neil was fortunate to share his life with two loyal, loving partners, Rusty Banus, who died in 1990, and William H. Lee, formerly of Houston, now of Denver, CO, and Palm Springs, CA. Throughout his illness Neil enjoyed the help and friendship of many social workers and agencies doing the Lord’s work, caring for “the least of these, my Brothers.” Among them were Leann Randolph of the Montrose Center, Kathleen Crist of the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, many staff members of the Bering Methodist Church outreach programs, and the Bering Omega Community Services programs. When his life fell on hard times with physical and mental illness, he was adopted into the Harris County Guardianship Program where he was cared for compassionately by caseworkers Kaisha Alexander and Kimberly Black for nearly five years. Wherever Neil went he was loved for his quick wit, irreverent sense of humor, mischievous behavior, and sparkling blue eyes.
Neil is survived by brothers Steve Parker Coburn and wife Victoria Benedetti Coburn of Dallas; Dr. Keith Alan Coburn and wife Victoria Bordelon Fayle of Baytown; sister Melanie Coburn Dailey and husband James Andrew Dailey of Palacios; nephews James Kevin Dailey and wife Angela of Spring; Chad Coburn and wife Katie, of Austin; Kurt Coburn and wife April, of Houston; Nieces Stephanie Coburn Lotz of Ft. Worth; and Dr. Karen Bains Dailey and husband Dr. Jorge Hernandez , of Beaumont. Also surviving Neil are a growing group of great nieces and nephews, all of whom love books and music like their Uncle Neil: 3 Coburn Boys in Austin; soon to be 2 Coburn boys in Houston; 3 Lotz boys in Ft. Worth; 3 Dailey girls in Spring; and a girl and a boy Hernandez-Dailey , in Beaumont.
Rather than floral gifts, the family requests that memorials be made in Neil’s name to the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society, The Bering Omega Community Services Foundation, or Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church in Baytown. The Coburns would have everyone remember always the words of St. Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”