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Posted: July 27, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Local leader Charles Wilborn dies at 73

Former Covington councilman Charles Wilborn, a beloved community volunteer and activist, died Saturday following a heart attack at his Covington home.

Wilborn, 73, died of natural causes, said county Coroner Tommy Davis.

"He was just a good man and a friend to everyone who knew him," Davis said.

Wilborn was a Covington councilman for 14 years, from 1991 to 2005, and was well-known for his numerous jobs and variety of talents, including being a self-employed tailor for more than 60 years.

Holding more than one job for most of his life, Wilborn most recently worked as a substitute teacher, a greeter at R.L.’s Off the Square, a salesman at New Shoez, and a tailor.

He also served as a volunteer with numerous nonprofits and civic groups over the years, including the Newton County Water and Sewage Authority board of directors, Covington Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis Club of Covington, Keep Covington/Newton Beautiful, Newton County Juvenile Court’s review panel, the Newton Medical Center Auxiliary and as volunteer at several local schools.

Wilborn had a particular passion for helping children and was an advocate for the city.

"Charles had a great love for children and learning," said former Covington city manager Steve Horton, who noted that Wilborn was instrumental in getting local officials to come to Heard-Mixon Elementary School to read to students on Dr. Seuss’ birthday as part of the Read Across America program.

"I want Covington and Newton County to have a good future," Wilborn said in a 2005 interview, his last year on the council. "The next generation will be our teachers, our lawyers, our leaders. I know these students. I tell them, ‘I believe in you, and I want you to be able to believe in yourselves.’"

During a 2009 race for Covington City Council as a challenger, Wilborn spoke about his philosophy regarding the election and life.

"There are no such words as ‘I can’t.’ I feel good, and I want to make a difference. When I leave this world, I want to leave a legacy of work behind," he said.

Born in Morgan County, Wilborn moved to Newton County when he was 8 years old and grew up on the family farm. He had to drop out of high school to work on the family farm, he previously told The News, but graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School at the age of 35.

Wilborn’s career changes mirrored some of the larger changes in Covington itself. He worked for three popular businesses that are no longer around, including People’s Drug Store, Cohen’s Men’s Shop and J.C. Poole Company, where he worked for 35 years. When he last ran for the council, he said he hoped to bring those department stores back to the square.

Wilborn leaves behind his two children, Bonnie and Barry.

"Charles was a good man and will be missed by many," said Horton.

For those who knew Wilborn, we encourage you to share your stories and memories with us, and we’ll do our best to share as many comments as possible. Feel free to email us at or to leave a comment on the story on our Facebook wall.

Funeral services for Charles Wilborn will take place Saturday, Aug. 3, at 12 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church of Covington. Visitation will be held from 12 - 9 p.m. Friday, at Lester Lackey Funeral Home.

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