Co-Lin to Honor Fortenberry as Alumnus of the Year at Homecoming

Charles Fortenberry, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, originally of Bogue Chitto, was selected as Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s 2023 Alumnus of the Year. He will be recognized during Homecoming on Thursday, Oct. 26 at the Alumni Association Awards Reception at 3:15 p.m. in the Thames Center on the college’s Wesson campus.

Fortenberry is a 1961 graduate of Co-Lin where he was a member of the Wolf Pack basketball team under Coach Alton Ricks. Coming from a small high school, he said Co-Lin served as a great transition point to prepare him academically for the university level.

“We just felt uncomfortable going to a large place like Mississippi State, so we chose Co-Lin,” he said. “It was easier to be a part of the basketball team and know your teachers.”

After Co-Lin, Fortenberry transferred to Mississippi State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science in 1963. He received a master’s degree from Troy State University and completed additional studies at Campbell University.

He then began a 25-year career with the United States Air Force. For four years during the Vietnam War, he flew more than 500 combat missions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. He also received 11 air medals and two Distinguished Flying Cross medals. He returned to the United States and began working his way up the ranks. In 1979, he established and commanded a combat operations school for National and International C-130 crewmembers. In 1982, he was assigned as commander of a C-130 squadron, which consisted of more than 1,000 crew members and maintenance personnel. He was promoted to colonel in 1984 and was assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as the air component commander.

Fortenberry retired from the military in 1987. Rather than pivot to a new career, he decided to devote his time toward the cosmetics business his wife, the former Patrica Ann Moak (’61), had built. She was recognized as Co-Lin’s Alumna of the Year in 2021. Ultimately, they grew the business reaching more than $40 million in annual sales and conducted seminars, conferences and workshops both in the U.S. and internationally.

The Fortenberrys have two children, Craig and Pam, and five grandchildren, Noah, Joshua, Allie Kate, Jacob and Katie.

For more information on Homecoming events, call (601) 643-8313 or visit