Tocqueville Society announces community service award recipients

News release from United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County:
This week, members of the Tocqueville Society celebrated Bob and Glenda Burgin and their remarkable commitment to our community and to United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. 


CEO of Mission Hospital from 1981-2005, Bob Burgin’s influential career and commitment to the health and wellness of our community is legendary. He has contributed 20+ years of leadership at United Way, where he chaired the Board of Directors in 1989 and 1990 and later served as the 2005 General Campaign Chair.

Bob has served on the boards of SunTrust Bank, Forest Commercial Bank, Deerfield Retirement Community, UNC-TV, UNC-TV Foundation, NC Healthy Start Foundation, Western Carolina University, Editorial Board of the Asheville Citizen-Times, NC Medical Care Commission, Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, MAHEC and more. 


Glenda Burgin was an educator at UNC Asheville, teaching Computer Science and regularly troubleshooting for fellow professors. She has been a champion for civic engagement and voting and held volunteer leadership roles in their children’s schools and at the Asheville City School Foundation, helped start Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and chaired Pisgah Legal Services’ appreciation events among many other endeavors.


The couple have made a philanthropic commitment to United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County for more than 50 years and have been engaged members of the Tocqueville Society for 18. In that time they have donated nearly a quarter million dollars to further United Way’s work. 


“Bob and Glenda moved to WNC in 1981 and for over 40 years, they have been caring, servant leaders, working to improve the lives and opportunities for all of our people in WNC. They both have given exemplary service in ministry to our citizens, not just in health care, not just in education but in caring for those impacted by poverty and injustice. Their caring leadership has made WNC better!” said Ed and Donna Broadwell, friends and fellow Tocqueville Society members.


Bob and Glenda’s two children, Andy and Carrie Burgin were present for the celebration and had this to say to the assembled crowd, “Growing up with the example that Glenda and Bob Burgin set has made us the most fortunate of offspring. Caring, giving back, and looking out for others are core principles they live and have exemplified for us over our lifetime. We learned not only the importance of service to community but also that “I don’t have time to volunteer” is not an excuse. Even being recognized today, they’d say – “enough about what we’ve done, just get out there and volunteer!”

About The Tocqueville Society In Buncombe County

The impact of the Tocqueville Society has been a tremendous driver toward United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County advancing their work in the community. This giving society, founded in 1990 by Charlie and Eleanor Owen, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. George D. Renfro, & Jerry Sternberg harnesses both the giving power and expertise of local leaders. 


Tocqueville Society members pledge an annual gift of $10,000 or more and often serve in other leadership positions within the organization. Collectively, this group of donors has contributed more than $25 million throughout its 33-year history here in Buncombe County.  Currently, 75 families are active members of the group.

About The Tocqueville Society Community Service Award

The Tocqueville Society Community Service Award is given each year to an individual or family whose service and generosity exemplify the true spirit of volunteerism that the group’s namesake, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about in his 1835 book, Democracy in America:

“When an American asks for the cooperation of his fellow citizens, it is seldom refused; and I have often seen it afforded spontaneously, and with great goodwill.”


While the local award began in 2002, United Way of America has honored national leaders for their contributions since 1973. Previous winners of the national award include Ambassador Walter Annenberg, Presidents Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter, Senator and Mrs. John Glenn, and Bob Hope.

Local Award Recipients

  • 2002 – Buddy and Marilyn Patton & Barbara Blomberg 
  • 2003 – Janice and Joe Brumit                                                         
  • 2004 – Jerry Sternberg
  • 2005 – Pam and Jim Turner                                                             
  • 2006 – Heather and Bill Lee                                                             
  • 2007 – Charlie and Eleanor Owen                                                   
  • 2008 – John and Diane Teeter                                                         
  • 2009 – Charlie and Cary Owen
  • 2011 – Jim and Robin Stickney
  • 2013 – Dot Hamill & Marla and Joel Adams
  • 2014 – Barbara and George Groome
  • 2015 – Barbra and Keith Love
  • 2016 – Ann and Mike Young
  • 2018 – David Bailey and Sherie Ryan Bailey 
  • 2019 – Taylor and Gary Foss
  • 2020 – Tracy and Scott Buchanan
  • 2021 – Jennie Eblen and Bobbie Eblen
  • 2022 – Suzanne and David DeFerie


About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.