Charles Earl Coker, 85, passed away very peacefully on Sunday, March 31, 2019 surrounded by his family and having lived a great life. Earl was born November 14, 1933 just outside of Pinetops, NC, the son of Charles Leslie and Mattie Brown Coker. He graduated from South Edgecombe High School and then earned a Business degree from East Carolina College. He returned to Pinetops and opened an insurance agency, and soon joined an existing insurance partnership, which became Cobb, Kittrell & Coker. Earl broadened his business to include tax preparation and also became a Realtor, which allowed him to encourage people to move to his beloved Pinetops. He loved nothing better than to drive newcomers all over the one-mile square town and its surrounding communities, showcasing local landmarks, telling colorful stories of the town’s history and introducing them to potential friends and neighbors. Earl Coker was a one-man Pinetops chamber of commerce and, though he spent most of his last 20 years in Raleigh and Atlantic Beach, he always introduced himself as “Earl Coker from Pinetops.” He served the town in many roles, including Town Commissioner from 1986-1991 and as Mayor from 1991-1999.
Earl was an active member of the Pinetops Lions Club for more than 50 years, and served the Club several times as President. He was named a Jack Stickley Fellow of the North Carolina Lions Club. He served on numerous boards and committees in Edgecombe County, including the Edgecombe Community College Foundation, the Board of Directors of Tarboro-Edgecombe Academy, the local Board of Peoples Bank & Trust, and the Pinetops Development Committee. After his retirement from the insurance business, he enjoyed serving for several years as an Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms in the N.C. House of Representatives. He and Jackie lived in Raleigh since 2001.
He was a faithful member of Pinetops United Methodist Church, serving as a Sunday School teacher and in multiple other capacities over the years.
Earl’s greatest joy was his family. He and Jackie raised four children, instilling in them the values of love and respect for everyone, a desire for a good education, and a commitment to service in the church and community. He never met a stranger and loved the opportunity to make new friends.
In addition to his parents, Earl was predeceased by his son Chris. He is survived by his wife of 60 years Jackie Burgess Coker, son Neal Coker and wife Mamie Jo Coker of Raleigh, daughter Suzanne Coker Craig and husband Doug Craig and their sons Wyatt and Garrett Craig of Pinetops, and daughter Paige Coker of Raleigh. He is also survived by grandsons, Burgess Coker of Raleigh, Cameron Coker of New York, NY, and Chase Coker of Raleigh. He is also survived by his loving sister Peggy Drake of Pinetops and many loving nieces and nephews.
Earl’s life will be celebrated at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church in Raleigh on Saturday, April 6 at 10:00 a.m. and at Pinetops United Methodist Church in Pinetops on Sunday, April 7 at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to Pinetops United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 13, Pinetops, NC 27864 would be appreciated.