Vivian “Vickie” Hovis Cobb. Photo by Candice Cobb.

The island was saddened to learn of the passing of  the proprietor of the former “Cobb House” women’s boarding house on Ocracoke, Vivian “Vickie” H. Cobb, 88, of Hillsborough and Ocracoke, who died peacefully on June 29 in Duke Hospital. 

Born Nov. 15, 1928, she was the only child born to the late Horace Osborne and Ferrie Elizabeth Johnson Hovis in Charlotte.

Vickie attended Erskine College in Due West, S.C., and Queens College in Charlotte, graduating with honors in classical music in 1951.

She became the first organist for Memorial Methodist Church and began teaching piano in her parents’ Parkwood Avenue home.

Her Charlotte organist and teaching careers spanned five decades. In 1999, she relocated to Hillsborough, where she continued teaching until her 2013 retirement.

She met her future husband, artist Donald Cobb, on a blind date while he was stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C., during the Korean War. The couple wed and had a daughter, Candice, in 1957.

A few years later, Vickie and Don were stranded in a storm on North Carolina’s remote Outer Banks. They fell in love with Ocracoke, and decided to build a house and art studio in Oyster Creek there. In the early 1970s, Don realized a lifelong dream and opened his art studio to the public.

After Don’s untimely death in 1977, Vickie opened the Cobb House, a popular boarding house for college students summering on Ocracoke. The Cobb House thrived for 35 years thanks to Vickie’s sense of humor and easygoing style. House rules included, “no kegs on the porch” (unless they wash up in a storm), “date according to need” (if house needs repairs, find matching skills), and “early curfews” (LEAVE the house so Vickie can sleep). Many Cobb House alumni live on Ocracoke today, and regularly reminisce about their Cobb House misadventures.

Vickie Cobb enjoys the July 4, 2016, parade with Cobb House alumnae, from left, Allison O’Neal, Claudia Lewis and Jennifer Daniels. Photo: C. Leinbach

Vickie’s favorite pastimes included playing and listening to classical music, reading biographies, spending time with her favorite cat, “Mozart,” and walking the Ocracoke beach. She loved her students and younger friends, and frequently commented that she “didn’t like old people.” Her quick wit and straightforward approach to life were infectious, and her best times were spent laughing on Ocracoke with Cobb House girls and her BFF Phyllis Wall. 

Her father, a career employee of Scott Drug Company, served as the family cook and neighborhood air raid warden during WWII. Her mother worked for Belk’s Department Store and enjoyed traveling the world in retirement.

Vickie is survived by her daughter, Candice, and partner, Martha McMillan, of Hillsborough and Ocracoke; cousins Lucille McCorkle, Jean Spurrier, Terry McCorkle Elder, and David McCorkle of Charlotte; Mozart, the big fine cat; and a very long list of friends, animals, and extended family.

A Hillsborough memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, July 10, in St. Matthews Episcopal Church with a reception afterwards, and an Ocracoke funeral service will be 11 a.m. Thursday, July 13, in the Ocracoke United Methodist Church followed by lunch in the rec hall. Burial will be in the Ocracoke Community Cemetery. 

Memorial donations may be made to the Ocracoke Community Square Revitalization Project (

The family would like to thank The Pavilion at Croasdaile, Brookdale Meadowmont, and Hospice of Alamance-Caswell for their care and kindness.

Previous articleNPS urges caution when attempting to access new sandbar off Cape Point
Next article100 years ago: How Ocracoke celebrated a Fourth of July