Kenneth T. Wilburn

March 21, 1943March 10, 2016

Dr. Kenneth Tarvan Wilburn of Neptune Beach, Florida died on March 10, 2016. Ken was born in Chattanooga, TN on March 21, 1943 to Joseph and Rena Wilburn. He graduated from Central High School in Chattanooga where he was a member of the high school concert, marching & swing bands. He completed his bachelor’s degree with a major in instrumental music in 1965 at Tennessee Technological University where he was also a member of the concert, marching & swing bands. In 1969 he finished his Master’s degree in instrumental music at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music, University of Memphis.

Ken moved to Jacksonville in the mid-1960s where he we was the Alternate Trombonist, Jacksonville Symphonic Orchestra and also a Tenor, St. Johns’ Cathedral Choir. During this time Ken was the director of several school bands including Davis Junior High School, Fletcher and Wolfson High Schools. He was also a music teacher for several public schools in Jacksonville and Tennessee. While working on his Master’s degree he was the band director at Ooltewah High School and a member of the Beal Street Blues Band in Memphis. As he moved on with his music career he was the Director of the Amelia Arts Academy Jazz Collection in Fernandina Beach and the Leader/Founder, Classics Jazz-Swing Quartet, Neptune Beach, FL.

In addition to being a consummate musician, Dr. Wilburn had over 45 years of experience in the educational system. He was the principal for several local schools including Woodland Acres Elementary School and Wolfson Senior High School and the Supervisor of the Research and Evaluation Department, Duval County Public Schools. As he moved forward to work on his doctoral degree he was the Principal of the University Laboratory School at the University of Northern Colorado and the Developmental Research School at Florida State University. While at FSU, Dr. Wilburn completed his doctorate in educational management systems and program evaluation. He spent several years on the faculty at the University of Northern Colorado and three years on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University. He returned to Jacksonville to join the educational leadership faculty at UNF where he served in both faculty and administrative positions. While at UNF he was one of the key founding faculty in the development of the educational leadership doctoral degree and made contributions to the development of the Institute for Values, Community, and Leadership. He was also a senior evaluator with Health-Tech Consultants, Inc. doing program evaluation for school districts, healthcare organizations, and community agencies. He retired from UNF after 32 years with department chairperson emeritus status. Dr. Wilburn touched many lives with both his music as well as his leadership.

Ken loved life and was an avid golfer, tennis player, and ran several marathons. He loved boating and was a competitive sailor. He also loved his motorcycles and had one from the time he was 14 until age 64 when he decided it was time to try something else.

Ken’s main love and focus was always his family. Left to cherish and honor his memory are his wife, Sharon, sons Jason (Helena, granddaughters Anna and Sara); Dax (Angel, Brianna and Erin), brother Jerry (Lynda), nephew David (Ai and Renka), cousin Lanar (Jean, Lynne, Jesse and Blake), close family friend Dale and long time family friend Barbara and son Shea.

Services will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral on Saturday, March 19th at 1:00 PM. Following the services there will be a reception with music. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Music Program at St. John’s Cathedral, 256 E. Church Street Jacksonville, FL 32202. Funeral arrangements have been placed in the care of Hardage-Giddens Beaches Chapel at 1701 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach, FL. Online condolences may be made at


  • Memorial Service Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kenneth T. Wilburn

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