Francis “Joe” Fulghum

June 8, 1925 - May 23, 2020

Francis “Joe” Fulghum, age 94, of Newark, Delaware, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family on Saturday, May 23, 2020, two weeks shy of his 95th birthday.   

Born in Wilson, North Carolina on June 8, 1925, Francis was the youngest son of the late Garry Thurman Fulghum and Beulah Phillips Fulghum. He grew up in Wilson and attended Charles L. Coon High School where he was recognized as a scholar athlete, playing football, basketball, and baseball. He captained the basketball and baseball teams. As a child, he was called Manny, but his high school coach called him Joe, after Joe Cronin, the Hall of Fame Boston Red Sox shortstop. Joe is the name that stuck.   

After graduating high school (1943), Joe enlisted in the U.S. Naval Air Corps. He attended Flight School at Duke University and various other college campuses, ultimately serving as a navigator for the Naval Air Transport Service in the American Theatre of the Asian Pacific in World War II. He was honorably discharged, rank of Ensign, in 1946 and was awarded the Victory Medal. Joe received a baseball scholarship to attend Wake Forest University and graduated with a degree in business with minors in math and education in 1950, followed by a Master’s degree in Education from East Carolina University in 1958. In 1949, he played in the Collegiate World Series and was chosen for the All Tournament Team. In 1950, he led the team with a .409 BA– currently 9th all-time record at Wake Forest. 

Joe married Helen Elizabeth Murray, of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1951, after a summer romance sparked by a championship baseball season with the Stellarton Albions (professional Halifax District League). The evening of their wedding, Joe hit a grand slam home run that put the Albions in the final playoffs for the Nova Scotia District Championship. He often said he hit two “grand slams” that day, marrying Helen being the big one. Joe continued to play for the Stellarton Albions until he retired from active play after the 1957 summer season. 

After the 1951 season ended, Joe and Helen returned to North Carolina where he taught school and coached for 4 years. Joe moved his young family to Delaware in 1957 to teach and coach for Seaford High School and to Newark in 1959. Joe taught mathematics and coached for Newark High School until retiring in 1987. 

Although recognized as a gifted athlete during high school and college, Joe’s ability to teach and inspire others defined his life work. His math students and his ball players speak of how he patiently encouraged and coached them through the steps of a math problem or game plays and practice drills in his slow southern drawl until they got it. A Newark baseball player who later served as Joe’s assistant coach said, “He made the game fun to play; we enjoyed playing for him.  He had an unusual ability to recognize talent and to put the right people in the right positions to make the whole team successful without showing favoritism. He was a kind gentleman who never had a bad word to say about anyone”.   

Joe was head coach for the Newark Yellow Jackets—basketball (5 years) and baseball (21 years) and assistant football coach (1 year). Joe’s emphasis on discipline, practice, fairness, and love for the game underscored numerous championships. During his tenure, Newark Yellow Jackets teams won first place in the Blue Hen Flight A Conference 9 times and won 4 baseball state championships (1970, 71, 74, 84). Overall, Newark High posted 235 wins, 114 losses, and 2 ties with Joe as the head baseball coach. Joe Fulghum was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2005) and the Nova Scotia Sports Heritage Hall of Fame (Stellarton Albions team). Joe Fulghum Field at Newark High School is dedicated to his many years of coaching and mentoring his ballplayers.   

Joe was a longtime member of the Newark United Methodist Church. After retiring in 1987, his focus shifted to family where he used his coaching talents in a different way. Family mattered most to him. They loved hearing his colorful stories of growing up in North Carolina, playing baseball and raising 5 spirited children with Helen. Joe enjoyed watching the Phillies, the Eagles, the 76ers and old movies. He had uncanny recall of movies and music from the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, often singing a familiar verse and ending with “Did you know…?” His children appreciated his dry Southern humor, how he nurtured each one in his own unique way, and his presence in their lives. He loved to sing, dance, laugh and eat Southern cooking—especially Carolina BBQ. His happiest times were spent sharing meals, movies, stories, scouting investment properties and perusing the ads for discount coupons with his family. 

In addition to his parents, Joe was preceded in death by his wife Helen, of 64 years; his sister, Olivia Fulghum Watkins of Henderson, North Carolina; and his brother, Garry Thurman Fulghum of Wilson, North Carolina. Joe is survived by his 5 children, Thurma Elizabeth Fulghum Deloach (William) of Chesterfield, MO, Francis Marion Fulghum Jr. (Patti) of Sammamish, WA, Lynn Fulghum Srivastava (Saurabh) Hockessin, DE, James Scott Fulghum (Maureen) of Elkton, MD, and David Lee Fulghum of Newark, DE; 9 grandchildren,  Lauren, Braden, Garry, Blake, Nicole, Kyle, Jessica, Ryan, and Shannon; and 11 great grandchildren, Harper, Chloe, Jack, Jude, Parker, Willow, Brooke, Smriti, Amelia, Evelyn, and Natalie. 

The family would like to personally thank the many friends & caregivers in Dad’s life—especially Artie, Mel, Sergei, Pat and Mike. 

Family and friends are invited to attend a drive-thru visitation on Sunday, May 31, 2020, from 1 PM until 3 PM at Newark High School Joe Fulghum Baseball Field, 750 East Delaware Avenue, Newark, DE, in compliance with the COVID-19 regulations. Services and burial will be held privately at the convenience of the family at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, DE. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Season’s Hospice, 220 Continental Drive, Ste. 101, Newark, DE 19713, Newark United Methodist Church, 69 E. Main Street, Newark, DE 19711, or Delaware Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, at the address listed above. 


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25 Condolences for Francis “Joe” Fulghum

  • Thurma and family,
    Wishing you many wonderful memories!

  • So sorry for your loss What a great man

  • You are in my thoughts and prayers, Lynn. Praying for you and your family as you face the loss of your beloved father. Su

  • Jim, David and to the entire extended Family we send sincere thoughts, regards, prayers and blessings.
    Your dad’s life gifted a beautiful legacy, full of stories and memories to cherish.
    Gibby and Dianna

  • Coach Fulghum was a fine man and a great coach. It was a pleasure to watch him coach both of my brothers in the late ’60’s and ’70’s and I got a front row seat to NHS baseball when I was one of the 2 female ball girls for the team in ’73. He never knew either of our first names, he just called us “the Gardner girls”! RIP Coach Fulghum. ⚾️

  • My deepest condolences to you and your family, your fathers obituary shares his live as a respected War Hero, teacher and Athletic coach living an honorable life. God bless him and his family! Rest peacefully Sir

  • Sorry for your loss. He had such a positive impact on so many people.

  • Thurma,, I am very sorry for your loss! I remember your Dad as the gentle math teacher who was always willing to take the time to help me get the math lesson that had brought me to tears. My positive thoughts and prayers are heading your way during this difficult time. May the wonderful memories of the time with your Dad bring your heart peace.

  • What an awesome story I just read about your Pop’s life.
    Sorry for your loss!!

  • Frannie, David and Family,

    We were so sorry to hear about your Dad. What a wonderful man he was and thank you for his military service in the Navy during WWII. You were all so very blessed to have him in your life. Sending our prayers, love and hugs to you all during this difficult time. God Bless.

  • My condolences to the family of this wonderful and caring teacher I remember so well …so proud to have known him ..

  • The Fulghum family is a loving model for all. Mr. and Mrs. Fulghum were always kind and seemed to have all the time in the world for you when you were around them. They will be sorely missed but their legacy lives on through their children, grand children and great grandchildren. I am so glad to have been personally touched by this incredible family. Love to all of you, Patti Harris Clifford

  • My condolences to the Fulghum family – Thurma, Fran and the other children. When Joe and Helen moved to Newark in the 1905s they were next door neighbors to my parents in Chestnut Hill Estates. I remember Joe’s many kindnesses to a neighborhood kid – including watching the Eagles beat the Packer’s in the 1960 NFL Championship game in the Fulghum’s basement and trying to teach a no-talent neighbor the fine points of the game of baseball. Joe and Helen were great friends to my parents for many years, great neighbors, great parents and great friends.

  • Joe and I taught and coached at Newark High. He was a memorable character. Well-liked and personable, he will be greatly missed. My sincere sympathy goes out to the family.

  • Thoughts and prayers for you and your family. Thank you for share this man to teach me math and never lose his cool, when I asked the same questions over and over again.

  • 🙏 🕊 To my work buddy and your entire family. Sending comfort and peace at this difficult time. May the almighty be with you all.

  • What a remarkable man, and teacher at NHS. Joe was a man who cared about his students, and was always willing to help them as well as his fellow teachers. My condolences to all of his family.
    Most Sincerely,
    Wayne Hill (NHS)

  • I had the privilege of playing baseball for Coach Fulghum for 3 years. What a wonderful experience it was to have played for such a fine gentleman. His dry southern humor was greatly appreciated by those of us who were lucky enough to have been around him.
    My condolences to his fine family.

  • My thoughts and prayers are with the Fulghum family as the mourn the loss of a great man- their father.
    Kevin McDerby

  • My father, Charles, also attended Wake Forest University, although I don’t know if it was around the same time. My parents (Marietta and Charles) both taught in North Carolina before moving to the Newark area in 1967, also attending Newark United Methodist Church, where I am still a member.

    I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss.

  • Thurma and Famiy,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. May your many beautiful memories comfort you during this time.

    Susan and Don

  • Joe,
    The Enyart family will greatly miss you with your true genuine love and caring feel we all received when we first met. We all could see and feel how great you were as a husband, father, and most of all your true devotions to your family and friends. We will deeply miss the bright shining light you left behind.

    Forever in our hearts,

  • Such great memories of our trip to Rehoboth Beach when I was young. I was in the car with Uncle Joe, I think it was the first time I was in a car that the air conditioner was on.
    Sending love to the whole family.

  • Great Obit tells all will be great KEEPSAKE for our Family
    Uncle Ivan & Aunt Betty

  • Rest in Peace, Mr. Fulghum! Newark High Sports was honored by your contributions over the years. God Bless!