Joel Borne grew up in Edgecombe County and graduated from Tarboro High School in 1942. He attended NC State for a year before he joined the US Marines in World War II and saw action in the Pacific theatre. After the war he returned to his native North Carolina and earned his law degree from UNC. He came home to Tarboro and married Edith Winslow and together they raised two sons. Joel practiced law for over 30 years before he retired.
But being retired didn’t mean taking it easy. He owned a farm that he managed, but that wasn’t enough for Joel. He really began a second career – this one of community service. Over the years he founded the Edgecombe Forestry Club and was a charter member of the Edgecombe Beekeeper Association. He regularly volunteered as a mentor in the HOSTS program at Stocks Elementary School, and in the local Red Cross chapter. He also contributed his time and energy to both the Habitat for Humanity and Heritage Hospital volunteer program.
In addition to giving his time and energy, Joel also gave in other ways. He donated land for a local church, and was a warden at Calvary Episcopal Church. He gave land to the Town of Tarboro for the athletic complex. An active 4H volunteer, he saw a need and went to work leading the campaign for the Edgecombe Livestock Arena. He donated land for that facility too.
If that wasn’t not enough, Joel found time to belong to several community organizations included the Golden Kawanis, the Tar-Pamilco River foundation, and the 4-H Advisory Council.
After giving all this to the community he loves, he still felt the need for more. Joel led the campaign to raise $80,000 for a Veteran’s Memorial to be established on the Town Common. Once that memorial was created, Borne organized the first of what is now monthly dedications at the memorial to honor a local veteran. Joel then began a new campaign, this one to establish a Veterans’ Museum which began just a few years ago in one room at the chamber of commerce office and now covers an entire building with one of the finest exhibits of military artifacts and history in the state.
Once his goal was achieved, Joel moved on to another need. This time it was a building that called out to him to save it. Borne purchased the old 1919 Colonial Theatre which had received major damage. Joel purchased the building, then got others involved in the process of restoring the place which is an ongoing project. He donated the Theatre building to the Veteran’s Museum and encouraged those that are restoring the structure.
Bourne also assisted a local nurse in organizing the WWII Veterans’ flight to Washington DC to view the dedicated war memorials. Although he was been busy serving others, his efforts have not gone unnoticed. He has been recognized as the Edgecombe County Citizen of the Year 2003, and the local DAR chapter gave his the Community Service Award.
Inducted into Hall of Fame 2008