A perpetual scholarship has been established for Mendocino College Nursing Program students in memory of LaRue Kobrin of Fort Bragg, who died in September.
Kobrin spent her entire life in service to helping others. She was a loving, caring and giving person who truly believed in doing everything possible to make the world a better place.
She was raised on the family farm in Palsade, Neb., while her father served in the United States Navy. The family would later move to San Diego where her father began his career in education and instilled an intellectual curiosity in his daughter.
Her educational career included a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State in 1964 and completion of a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Colorado in 1968.
“She had a natural curiosity about people and their behavior which led her into the field of psychology. LaRue’s true life passion was that she gave of herself, without prejudice or judgment in an attempt to help those less fortunate,” said Frank Bender, Kobrin’s husband and life partner for the past 44 years.
Kobrin and Bender met in 1970 and according to him, “the first day we met, we became best friends, lovers and soulmates.”
Their extraordinary love story would bring them to beautiful Fort Bragg in 1974 where they would live for the rest of Kobrin's life.
A teacher at heart, Kobrin began her teaching career at College of the Redwoods in 1981 as the psychology professor for the Fort Bragg Campus.
Her career spanned 24 years and included helping so many people reach their full potential. Many of her former students still remain in the area, and their faces light up at the mention of her name.
One former student of Kobrin’s is Terri Ebrey, RN, hospice coordinator at Mendocino Coast Home Health.
“My early association with LaRue was as a student at College of the Redwoods in the 1990s,” said Ebrey. “She always seemed joyous and compassionate. LaRue arrived to class early. Those of us who did the same were greeted by that smile of hers and were able to pick her marvelous brain. She never told me 'no' … she was patient and eager to share her knowledge. In the collegiate setting, LaRue was a student advocate.
At the end of her life LaRue was fairly nonverbal from the time I became involved in her care until the time she passed. However, and here comes the special part, she still managed to exude joy and compassion. Without ever saying a word. All she had to work with were her smile and loving eyes. She was generous to the very end; generous of spirit. It seemed to me that she felt peaceful acceptance in regard to her prognosis, examples of a life lived fully and lovingly.”
While at College of the Redwoods, Kobrin met and became close friends with her math colleague Deborah White.
“I met LaRue in 1985 and began working with her at College of the Redwoods in 1990. Our relationship lasted 15 years and gave us both the camaraderie and support that professors working at a small rural satellite campus desperately needed,” said White.
“LaRue identified with ordinary people. Here she was, this incredibly smart woman with a PhD from the University of Colorado who not only taught, but was a longtime manager at Captain Flints Restaurant. LaRue Kobrin was 'of the people' … She was very laid back but had a brain of steel. She was also incredibly loyal and family oriented. She treated everyone she met with dignity and care,” according to White.
Kobrin died on Sept. 22, 2014. However, the impact of her work and that passionate belief in helping others will live on in perpetuity.
Bender has generously created the LaRue Kobrin Memorial Scholarship in her memory.
These perpetual scholarships will be distributed annually to Mendocino College students enrolled in the Nursing Program with an emphasis given to those students residing on the Mendocino County Coast.
“LaRue Kobrin touched countless people’s lives because she was a loving, caring, and giving human being. These scholarships will continue to touch lives and remind us all what it means to make a difference in a life. On behalf of the Mendocino College Foundation, we are honored to be the steward of this gift,” said Katie Fairbairn, Mendocino College Foundation executive director.
Recently, the Anderson Valley Advertiser’s Bruce Anderson stated this about Kobrin, “mere words and condolences aren’t nearly enough to describe this woman’s life... LaRue was universally admired for her compassion and intelligence as she helped many persons with sound, practical advice on their personal difficulties. Married for many years to Fort Bragg fisherman, Frank Bender, LaRue died in her sleep at her home at 3am this morning with Frank by her side.”
For more information about or to contribute to the LaRue Kobrin Memorial Scholarships, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-467-1018.
(Donations are still needed to reach the scholarship goal. To be part of LaRue’s legacy, donate to the LaRue Kobrin Memorial Scholarships by sending a check made out to Mendocino College or donate online at http://Foundation.Mendocino.edu. For more information e-mail email@example.com or call 707-467-1018.
Mendocino College Foundation: 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, CA 95482.