Cumberland University


Benefactor's gift reflects legacy of generosity



Renowned benefactor and former professor Dr. Bert Coble has presented a generous donation to Cumberland University in the latest of numerous annual gifts on behalf of himself and his wife Sue Coble.

Derived from the proceeds of the Bert Coble Singers’ 2012 Christmas Dinner performance, the gift will support Cumberland’s H. Bert Coble Endowed Scholarship, which supports exceptional music students.

Alongside Jennifer Perry, the Bert Coble Singers’ new director, Dr. Coble presented the gift to Cumberland in a ceremony with University President Dr. Harvill Eaton on Feb. 14.

Mrs. Sue Coble, Mrs. Jennifer Perry ('83), Dr. Harvill Eaton, Dr. Bert Coble, Mr. Rusty Richardson

The gift reflects a long legacy of generosity on the part of Dr. and Mrs. Coble, longtime benefactors of Cumberland. An accomplished music instructor and director, Dr. Coble built and oversaw Cumberland’s fledgling music program as a professor, choir director, and chairman of the music department from 1972-1988. A music instructor and teacher, Sue Coble helped to support him in that endeavor. Both have resided in Lebanon, Tenn., since 1968.

To this day, Dr. Coble remembers his years at Cumberland as some of his best.

"Cumberland was my life for 16 years," said Coble, who lived on campus with his wife for 12 years. "Those years were rich. There’s no way for me to express my feelings about the school while I was there. I still love Cumberland.”

A noted Rotarian and church choir director, Dr. Coble always found it important to give beyond service alone. At Cumberland, he exemplified that spirit, giving to the university even before his retirement.

“We’ve made contributions for 40 years now, since 1972,” Dr. Coble said. “It makes you feel good to know that you’re trying to help your fellow man.”

Though Dr. Coble’s legacy of giving at Cumberland would begin with those annual donations, his best known contributions would come from his activities after leaving the university in 1988.

That same year, Dr. Coble founded the Bert Coble Singers, beginning with a nucleus of 16 local vocalists, including many Cumberland alumni. Today, the group has become a venerable choir with approximately 40 vocalists, having toured in 19 European countries on 11 separate tours.

The Bert Coble Singers are perhaps best known for their annual, charitable Christmas Dinners. In 25 years of performances, Dr. Coble has touched over 100,000 lives and generated over $150,000 for the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the H. Bert Coble Endowed Scholarship at Cumberland.

Though Dr. Coble stepped down from directing the choir after the 2011 Christmas Dinner, the Singers continue to represent his tradition under the new leadership of Jennifer Perry (’83), the group’s longtime associate director. Perry directed the group as they mounted their 2012 Christmas dinner.

The Cobles’ latest gift, which comes predominantly from monies raised in the 2012 event, will benefit Cumberland’s H. Bert Coble Endowed Scholarship. Established by students to honor Dr. Coble’s contributions to Cumberland’s music program, the scholarship goes to support music students that demonstrate exceptional performance skills and strong citizenship.

The gift is but the latest of many donations in Dr. and Mrs. Coble’s history of generosity toward Cumberland. As a prominent donor, Dr. Coble hopes that his gifts will not only support the university, but also inspire others to give as well.

"Cumberland is a great institution, and it is hitting on all eight cylinders because people are supporting it," Coble said. "I hope this gift will encourage others to give."

To learn how to give to Cumberland University, call (615) 547-1239 or visit