Daniel Coborn, the late owner/director and chairman of the board of Coborn’s, Inc., championed Catholic education in the St. Cloud Diocese, including at Cathedral School in St. Cloud, which he attended, and St. John’s University in Collegeville, where he graduated in 1952.
Mike Mullin, president of Cathedral School, said that although Coborn actually graduated from Sauk Rapids High School, “Dan Coborn was Cathedral class of 1948. We still count him as one of ours because his heart was certainly here, as were his grandchildren.
“You would need to search far and wide to find a more generous and gracious person than Dan,” Mullin said. “He seemed to always be happy and was always interested in doing whatever he could to support his alma mater — and his grandchildren’s school.”
Coborn, who died March 15, and his family also advocated for public education, health care institutions and service organizations across central Minnesota.
In 1967, he and his wife Mabel became charter members of United Way of Central Minnesota. He also was a founding member of Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota.
He served on the board of St. Cloud Hospital and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board. In 2013, Dan and Mabel were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CentraCare Health Foundation.
Coborn was honored with Cathedral School’s highest recognition, the Golden Crusader Award, in 2013.
“Dan understood a strong Cathedral [High School] was not only good for the families it served directly,” Mullin said, “but even more importantly for the assets it brought to the greater central Minnesota community — and as a result, he, and later his successors, generously provided significant financial and in-kind support.”
Recently, Mullin said, The Coborn Family Foundation made a leadership gift to The Campaign for Cathedral.
Bishop Donald Kettler said he is grateful for the support the Coborn family has given over the years to the community and the church, including the diocese’s Living the Promise campaign. He said he is keeping the Coborn family in his prayers.
Following Coborn’s graduation from St. John’s, he served in the U.S. Army. Upon discharge, he assisted with a variety of management duties in the grocery business of his father, Duke Coborn, which was started by Dan’s grandfather, Chester Coborn. In 1959, he and his brothers found themselves at the helm of the company after their father’s unexpected passing. Coborn’s, Inc. businesses have grown to more than 120 retail locations.
Michael Hemesath, president of St. John’s University, said of Coborn, “His legacy of business success, philanthropy and community leadership reverberate throughout both central Minnesota and St. John’s University.”
The Coborn family and business have contributed to St. John’s in current and past SJU capital campaigns, including donations to the Art Center, science building and athletic facilities. They also established the Coborn Family Scholarship Fund at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict; the fund has supported 60 students since it was begun in 2005.
In 2002, Coborn received the Father Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award from St. John’s for outstanding service to the SJU community by an alumnus.
“St. John’s and the entire central Minnesota community will always be indebted to Dan for his record of service and community engagement,” said Rob Culligan, SJU vice president for institutional advancement. “Through his great generosity, Dan has touched the lives of hundreds of students and they, in turn, have helped transform the communities in which they live.”
At the College of St. Benedict commencement in 2012, Dan, a past CSB trustee, and Mabel received the President’s Medal.
“Dan and the Coborn family have a long and storied history of partnering with the College of St. Benedict to make central Minnesota a better community for us all,” said Mary Dana Hinton, CSB president. “As his family and our community grieve his death, we should find solace in the long and lasting legacy of hope he has left to make our community and the world a better place.”