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Alumni and Friends

Bob and Pam Collette Continue Philanthropic Legacy with Recent Gift for Slocum Camp Renovation

Close-up of Bob and Pam Collette.
Bob and Pam Collette have been donors to NC State for more than 50 years. They recently made a generous gift to the College of Natural Resources to support the renovation of Slocum Camp at the George Watts Hill Demonstration Forest in Durham County.

Bob Collette ‘69 tells the story of his first grandchild’s preschool teacher showing her the color red and asking her what color she was looking at.

His granddaughter took one look and said, Wolfpack red. The teacher, ironically a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, spent most of the year trying to convince his granddaughter that it was just called red.

It’s only fitting for a family whose story began at NC State more than 50 years ago and who have been longtime supporters of the university. After all, it’s where Bob met his future wife, Pam, on a blind date when he was a freshman at NC State and she was training to become a nurse.

The two married his senior year and started a family not long after. Bob headed into the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War and they had two daughters born during his time in the military.

He’d enrolled at NC State thinking he might go into engineering, but found it wasn’t the right fit for him. Instead, he moved into the College of Natural Resources.

“I loved it,” Bob recalls. “I enjoyed studying the sciences, the outdoors – it was just an enjoyable experience.”

He’d received two draft notices while at NC State that he was able to defer as a student. By his senior year though, he knew he’d need to enlist and prepared to enter the Air Force.

So while the couple can trace their beginnings back to NC State, Bob notes with a laugh that he really didn’t use his degree in the years that followed. He spent about four years in the Air Force, and then went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I was a forester who only spent one summer in forestry,” he says.

That hasn’t stopped the Collettes from showing their support for the university. They’ve been donors to NC State for more than 50 years. They were a proud Wolfpack family from the start, and their connections to and pride for NC State have only grown.

“We went to football games when they were right there on campus,” Pam recalls. “The Brickyard was just being thought about.

“We have so many memories of just walking the campus, we thought it was a fabulous place to be.”

In the time since, their daughter, Kelly, and her husband both graduated from NC State. They have two grandsons at NC State – one scheduled to graduate this December and one who’s a sophomore.

In fact, the Wolfpack pride runs so deep that Bob’s friends tease him that he only owns red shirts, Pam says. For her part, Pam has a Wolfpack shirt that reads, “I married into this.” The two have held season football tickets for roughly 40 years and had basketball season tickets for two decades as well.

With that kind of passion, it’s easy to understand why they give back.

“It’s about being able to help future students enjoy it and get as involved as we did,” Bob says. “We are thrilled to go to campus and see all the positive things that are happening today.”

While Bob’s favorite NC State memory is meeting Pam, the couple also has special memories of Kelly’s time there – going back and reliving a little bit of that NC State experience again.

“We were so happy to have our youngest daughter go there,” Pam says. “We enjoyed going back and creating those special memories.”

The Collettes have shown their support in a number of meaningful ways over the years. Bob’s first gift was in 1970. In addition to general university support, they are loyal members of the Wolfpack Club and have supported several “passion projects,” such as the marching band and the completion of the NC State Belltower.

“It’s been about trying to benefit the school as much as we can, in as many different ways as we can,” Bob says.

One special off-campus donation has ties all the way back to Bob’s time in summer camp. He attended Slocum Camp in Durham County in 1967. Cabin six, where he lived that summer at the Slocum Camp, is today known as the “Pam and Bob Collette Cabin” thanks to the couple’s generosity.

Bob hadn’t returned there until 2023 when he went back for a visit.

“It brought back so many memories,” he says. “They’d made so many changes and had goals for the future – I realized it would be nice to contribute toward that goal.”

With some planning, Bob realized early on that he’d be able to retire from the federal government at age 55, so he’s been retired longer than some. That kind of planning, he says, is also what helped he and Pam continue to give to NC State and increase their giving over time. NC State is in their estate plans as well.

To the extent that others are able, Pam and Bob encourage them to think about supporting NC State.

“If you enjoyed your schooling or your experience at school, and you’d like to see others do the same, then do what you can to encourage them and provide them with some of the resources to do that,” Bob says.

The couple returned to Winston-Salem when Bob left the Air Force and have lived there since. They are fortunate today to have much of their family close by. Both of their daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren live nearby.

When they’re not cheering on the Pack, the couple loves to travel internationally and within the United States. They’ve made it to 44 of the 50 states and plan to get to all 50.

And in retirement, maybe Bob does use that forestry degree just a bit.

“I take care of the yard, so I guess I’m putting the forestry degree to use at home,” he says.

This article was written by Lea Hart for the College of Natural Resources.