- May 20, 2022
Patrick Coburn, 81, of Chicago, and a native of Madison County, Ill., passed away peacefully May 18,2022. He spent his entire newspaper career at The State Journal- Register and the Illinois State Register, a predecessor to Springfield’s current daily newspaper.
He used the practical skills learned at Eastern Illinois University in English and journalism to join the staff of the Register as a police reporter in 1966. The job paid $110 a week, but he got a five dollar raise after six months. He held a number of reporting assignments before becoming city editor of the Register and then managing editor. When the Register merged with the Illinois State Journal in 1974, he was named managing editor of the new newspaper. During 1995, he completed an assignment as interim senior news executive with Fox Valley Press, Inc., a subsidiary of The Copley Press, Inc. in the Chicago area. In October 1996, he was appointed associate publisher of The State Journal-Register and became Publisher on January 1, 1997. In his capacity as publisher of The State Journal- Register and the Courier in Lincoln, he served as vice president of the Copley Press, Inc.
Coburn has been active with many professional organizations during his tenure with the newspaper. He has served with several committees of the national Associated Press Managing Editors Association. He was a member of the board, the executive committee and chairman of the 20-state Mid-America Press Institute. He was president of the United Press International Illinois Editors Association and served as president of the Illinois Associated Press Editors group. He was active with The AP on the national level – serving on the convention and nominating committees. He has lectured at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Indiana University and was editor-in-residence at the University of Illinois.
In 2001, he was named to the Lincoln League of Journalists by the Illinois AP editors and was later inducted as a Master Editor in the journalism hall of fame at SIU Carbondale. He was inducted into the EIU Journalism Department Alumnus Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2006, he was awarded the honorary degree, doctor of public service, by Eastern Illinois University. In the fall of 2006, he was presented with the James C. Craven Freedom of the Press Award by the Illinois Press Association. He was named Honorary Copley First Citizen of Greater Springfield in 2006. He received the Downtown Advocate Award for 2006 presented by Downtown Springfield, Inc.
Coburn is past president of Friend-In-Deed, a newspaper-sponsored charity that provides assistance to disadvantaged families of central Illinois. During 2011, he served as a commissioner of the Citizens Efficiency Commission of Sangamon County. He is a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee of the University of Illinois at Springfield and formerly was a member of the community advisory board of WUIS public radio. He was a trustee of Downtown Springfield, Inc., and a member of the board of the Sangamon County Community Foundation. He was chairman of Kids Voting Illinois. He has served on the boards of Sister Cities, Boy Scouts of America, Springfield Area Arts Council and the Island Bay Yacht Club, the local Community Action Agency, the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast Committee.
Coburn was a member of the board of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. He served on the mayor’s follow-up committee for the 2002 AIA Regional/ Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT). He was a member of the Illinois Capitol Historic Preservation Board, advisors to the Architect of the Capitol. In the fall of 2006, the governor appointed Coburn chair of the Destination Springfield civic leadership group.
Coburn was a long-time supporter of the arts in Springfield, serving as an officer of the Springfield Area Arts Council and a benefactor of the Hoogland Center for the Arts downtown.
He collected contemporary art, enjoyed reading, movies, music, theater, travelling extensively through Europe and Asia, and spectator sports in Chicago, where he resided. He greatly enjoyed dining in Chicago. Fridays were reserved for lunch of the “Bar Association” at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab Restaurant.
He was the devoted brother of J. Michael Coburn, Timothy (Theresa) Coburn, Margaret Ann “Maggie” Cope and the late Joseph Leo Coburn, Jr.; loyal son of the late Joseph Sr. and Margaret Coburn.
Services private. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to The Clare Charitable Foundation, 55 E. Pearson, Chicago, IL 60611