The homes of Muskogee Mayor Bob and wife Gwen Coburn, and Noble and Pam Beck along with Three Rivers Museum are a few of the stops guests will make on the 20th annual Christmas by Candlelight from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday.
The night tour features food and beverages along with Christmas music presented by local entertainers like Michael Dunn, who is playing piano and singing at the museum. Advance tickets are $25 by calling Donna Taylor, (918) 683-6600. Proceeds benefit the Kelly B. Todd Cerebral Palsy and Neuro-Muscular Center.
About the Coburn home
Christmas is a big deal at Gigi and Pop’s house. It’s a family tradition that Bob and Gwen’s mothers, the late Marj Coburn and Margie Burris, passed on to them. They also share a passion for children and want to open their home for the tour to help the children at the Kelly B. Todd Center. They knew the Todd family, whose son was the inspiration for the center. They also know other families who have benefited from the therapy their children have received there.
When you walk into their home in River Oaks, the four grandchildren’s photos hang on the wall to the left.
“That’s each one of them at 2,” Gwen said.
They are Cate and Rhett, children of their son Joey and wife Mindy (Parks) Coburn of Keller, Texas, and Charlie and Carter, sons of their daughter Jami and husband Wayne Divelbiss of Muskogee.
There are family treasures throughout the home like a wooden antique optometry case that holds lenses that belonged to Bob’s father, the late John Coburn, when he was an optometrist in Altus. He moved from there to Muskogee to work with his brother, the late O.W. Coburn, at Coburn Optical.
Bob’s mother made pink and blue needlepoint Christmas stockings that are brought out each year.
“Christmas is a fun time for us,” Gwen said.
The couple built their family home in 2000 and moved in January 2001 from just a couple of blocks over. Bob had found the area, which didn’t have a road then. Gwen and her friends, Berna Lester and Doris King, were walking past the wooded area and decided they all should buy lots and build homes. Several members of the Lester family bought lots and built. The Kings did buy a lot but sold it and didn’t build. The street is sometimes called “Baptist row” or “Lesterville.” Most of the neighbors, like the Coburns, attend First Baptist Church of Muskogee.
The floor plan is just like their previous home, except they turned the garage around and added an office. It’s about 3,600 square feet with four bedrooms.
It has flooded twice because of a hot water tank and a busted pipe, both while they were out of town. In fixing the home the walls are now taupe in the living room instead of red and the flooring in the kitchen is tile instead of wood. Gwen likes red so there is a touch of it in every room.
The breakfast table is set the Christmas china, a gift from Bob to Gwen. There are plenty of Santas on the buffet and a Christmas village in the dining room that includes a tuxedo shop, in honor of the family business, Coburn’s Tuxedos. There’s also a doctor’s office in honor of Bob’s cousin, Dr. Tom Coburn. Gwen also worked in the doctor’s office. In the family room, Gwen’s collection of miniature carolers look ready to sing.
“I love their expressions,” she said.
On the Christmas tree in the family room are ornaments from the couple’s travels and from Gwen’s friends. She is part of a group of six women friends who have met for nine years and exchanged ornaments. That’s 54 ornaments from those friends, Gwen said. A pink glass high-top tennis shoe represents the 60 miles the couple walked in Dallas for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation that supports cancer research. Breast cancer has struck both sides of their family including causing the death of Bob’s sister, Sharon Wetz, in 1999.
A Christmas tree in a guest bedroom holds the white crocheted ornaments made by the late Gertrude Nash, an avid supporter of the Kelly B. Todd Center. The lace tree skirt was from a mission trip.
Gwen calls another bedroom her “hope room.” It was the room she created for grandchildren before they were born. Snoopy ornaments hang on the tree in this room. Their son, Joey, got them while on a shopping trip with Gwen’s mother the day after Christmas when he was a child. Now, the grandchildren also have a play room upstairs in finished attic space.
The master bedroom has artwork by Bob’s nephew, Bryan Wetz of Dallas. He created the silhouette of a pink ribbon with names around it in memory of his mother who died of breast cancer.
The Coburns want to people to feel comfortable in their home when they come on the tour.
“Christmas is a big deal in our family,” Bob said. “Bill Dublin came to our house as Santa. Our kids would come out at 5 or 6 in the morning to have Santa in their living room.”