Robert D. "Bob" Coble (born April 27, 1953) is a former mayor of Columbia, South Carolina. Coble has been a resident of Columbia for most of his life having graduated from Dreher High School in 1971 where he was student body president. Coble and former Columbia City Council member Frannie Heizer won the South Carolina state debate championship in 1971. Coble graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1975 cum laude and the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1978 cum laude. Coble was elected to the Richland County Council in 1985 and served until 1988. Coble was elected Mayor of Columbia South Carolina in 1990 and served until 2010. Mayor Coble was elected Mayor five times and in his last re-election in 2006 received well over 60% of the citywide vote. He was succeeded as mayor by Steve Benjamin.
Coble did not run for re-election in 2010 and is now an attorney with the Nexsen Pruet Law Firm in Columbia South Carolina where he chairs the firm's South Carolina Public Policy and Government Affairs Team http://www.nexsenpruet.com/attorneys-45.html. Coble currently is the Chair of the Columbia World Affairs Council and Chair of the Columbia Museum of Art Government Relations Advisory Committee. Coble also serves on the South Carolina Advisory Committee of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.
During Coble’s tenure as Mayor Columbia’s population grew by 27%. Downtown revitalization projects included the Gervais Streetscaping, a new Columbia Art Museum, Main Street Streetscaping, and new buildings including the Meridian and First Citizens as well as the new Sheraton on Main Street. Coble led a regional effort to develop the Three Rivers Greenway, the EdVenture Children’s Museum, CanalSide, and the Columbia Convention Center. In October 2008, the city council voted in favor of Bob Coble's plan to prohibit smoking in all bars and restaurants in the City of Columbia.
In 1994 Coble and Columbia business leaders brought a lawsuit to remove the Confederate Flag from the Dome of the South Carolina Statehouse. The legal action was based on the fact that in 1961 the South Carolina Legislature raised the Confederate Flag over the Statehouse by a resolution rather than by statute. The lawsuit became moot and was dropped in 1995 when the Legislature adopted a statute authorizing the flag to fly on the Dome.
Also, during Coble's time as Mayor, Columbia established Sister City relationships with Kaiserslautern, Germany; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Chelyabinsk, Russia; and Yibin,in the Sichuan Province, China. Coble led delegations from Columbia to visit those cities with the most active relationship being with Kaiserslautern. Coble also led a number of economic development missions to Germany and Europe and to Chengdu and China.
Coble received numerous awards including the Ambassador of the Year 2004 by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Knowledge Economy Award 2007 by SCRA, the Global Vision Award 2008 by the World Affairs Council, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Leadership in Historic Preservation 2009 by Historic Columbia Foundation, The Richland One School District Hall of Fame, the Urban League 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Legacy Award, and Order of the Palmetto by Governor Mark Sanford June 2010. In December 2010 Coble was presented with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of South Carolina. In October 2014 Coble received the Harriet Hancock Ally Leadership Award from the South Carolina Equality for his work as Mayor in promoting equality issues for the LGBT community. In January 2015 Coble was awarded the Martin Luther King Social Justice Award by the University of South Carolina.
Coble Plaza was dedicated and opened on July 3, 2013. At his retirement Columbia City Council named a portion of the Three Rivers Greenway behind EdVenture Children's Museum, Coble Plaza in his honor. ( The State July 3, 2013 https://web.archive.org/web/20130706065757/http://www.thestate.com/2013/07/03/2846309/former-columbia-mayor-coble-honored.html and The State April 10, 2013 http://www.thestate.com/2013/04/10/2717789/new-section-of-three-rivers-greenway.html). Also at his retirement, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center named a portion of the main ballroom the Coble Ballroom in his honor.
On April 15, 2015, Coble had a heart attack in the South Carolina Statehouse while working there as a lobbyist and lawyer. Coble subsequently fully recovered and wrote an op ed in The State newspaper about his experience and how grateful he was to Providence Hospital. (The State August 18, 2015 http://www.nexsenpruet.com/news/-coble-providence-will-still-fulfill-vital-mission-in-community)
Coble married Beth McLeod, the daughter of former South Carolina Attorney General Daniel McLeod in 1978. Beth Coble founded the "First Ladies Walk for Life" by the Palmetto Health Foundation which raised funds for breast cancer research. The event averaged 8,000 walkers each year. They are the parents of six children and five grandchildren.