Bob Cole Profile
Mr. Robert Morris Cole (Deceased)
Athletic Network Footnote: Living Memorial to Bob Cole in Photo Gallery and in his profile
Pictures of the man who served as a father-figure for many of his track athletes can be found by clicking on www.athleticnetwork.net Photo Gallery (upper left), Track & Field, then any of the years (1966-1984). The 1966 photo gallery has pictures of his first team and the 1984 contains one of the pictures taken near his retirement.
To complete the living memorial to Bob Cole, friends and former athletes are asked to email their fond memories to the Athletic Network at email@example.com so each may be posted in his profile.
Bob Cole Eulogy
As we gather here today with his family to honor the life of Bob Cole, we have amongst us, his closest friends and beloved former athletes who, if given the time, would each have a humorous or special story to tell about their relationship with this special man. And we could be here for hours.
And there are others I have heard from who cannot be here who would also have a special story to tell. Calls and emails have come from as far as England and Germany —- and there is his former S.L.I. roommate from 1947, who could not be here because of a recent surgery.
And there are those from his temporary home at Kingsley Place who cried when they saw Bobby and me come back without him on Friday. They are all saddened that they cannot be here, but they send their condolences to his family and to his extended UL track and Toledo Bend families.
And there were the doctors, nurses, and caregivers who took care of him – all of which have given me a greater appreciation for their professions.
Among those is a greater appreciation for the nursing profession. In looking back over the last three years, there was one nurse whose advice he always followed – that of my wife, Karen. She was a “trooper extraordinaire”, especially in his final 48 hours.
And on Saturday, at the first indoor track meet of the season, LSU held a moment of silence in his honor and offered condolences to his family and the entire UL track family.
To Bob and Donna, and to what he considered his most precious granddaughter, Lauren, you should know that he worshiped the ground you walked on. He often talked of other people — that was his nature — but make no mistake; above all else, you were the loves of his life and today, we thank you for sharing him with us.
As a coach’s son and daughter, you missed many important moments a father shares with his children. However, you should know that while he was away, he was working hard to provide for you, and his time was well spent.
He was molding the character and lives of people who depended on him as a coach, teacher, mentor, and father figure — all of whom would later call him a friend for life.
When I saw his obituary on Saturday, I was a bit upset that they listed his occupation as “educator” instead of “coach.” However, we will all agree that educator was far more accurate. He taught many lessons.
During his career, there were numerous championships, multiple “coach of the year” honors, 42 all-Americans, and 5 or 6 national champions. His former athletes vaulted to the top of their professions as doctors, lawyers, engineers, bankers, architects, military officers, scientists, businessmen, educators, and coaches. He was proud of them all.
And they all have one thing in common — they are quick to tell you that they are who they are and what they are, in part, because he challenged them at every juncture. He gave them an opportunity to get an education – and in many cases, an opportunity no one else would offer.
He taught them to work beyond minimum standards to get the job done. He taught them how to be fighters and winners on the athletic field, which would later translate to being winners in life.
As he challenged us, he taught us how to accept responsibility. He was quick to praise and equally quick to tell us (J in no uncertain terms J) when we were not giving our best effort. He was a master motivator and a man of few words, but when he spoke, we listened.
He found a way to make each of us believe we were the most important part of his teams and that he and our teammates were depending on our performance.
When first meeting him, many read him the wrong way — I know I did. We sometimes thought of him as harsh and uncaring. But when we really got to know him, many of us after graduating, we found him to be very special. He related to us because he was like us; he cared and he loved — And it was genuine.
When a former athlete or friend died, he cried alone; he felt pain. He laughed and made us laugh when telling his humorous one-liners or singing his favorite country & western songs on bus rides home after winning a conference championship.
He had a big heart and dished from that heart enough love to share with us all. We are here today because we all felt that love.
The hundreds of men he molded will all tell a similar story, as I do, that he enriched their lives immensely. For that, we are eternally grateful. It was truly a privilege to call him “Coach.”
Today’s athletes would be better off if their coaches adopted his version of, “It’s my way or the highway.” That mindset with him, as most of you know, never allowed the highway aspect of that saying to kick in. With him, it was usually, “It’s my way” or — “It’s my way.”
Among other great things about Coach Cole was that he was a GIVER — not a TAKER. And he never uttered a word about wanting credit for any of his accomplishments. It was about his athletes. The credit always went to them.
As three final tributes to him, it is time that he receives that credit.
A Robert M. Cole Memorial Track & Field Fund at the UL Foundation will be set up and I am sure the fund would appreciate your most generous and needed support for current and future UL track programs. Be it $50 or $5000 on an annual basis, it will be used wisely, in his name, to help that program maintain its existence.
In addition, we must begin, in earnest, to push for the naming of the recently renovated UL Track complex to name it Cole-Lancon Field – after two great coaches who influenced UL track like no others.
And his addition to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in the coming years would enrich that shrine as well. His credentials certainly place him among the elite who are already there.
In closing, I will now recite an amended version of “I’m Free.”
Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free
I took His hand when I heard him call;
I could not stay another day,
J Tasks left undone must stay that way;
If my parting has left a void,
A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss;
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
My life’s been full, I savored much;
Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Lift up your heart and share with me,
REST WELL, BOB COLE, YOU’VE HAD A GREAT JOURNEY
LSU FIELDHOUSE :::::::: START 2:40 P.M. Saturday, January 13, 2007
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Carl Maddox Field House here on the LSU
Before we begin, please rise for a moment of silence and help us honor a
Coach Cole was the winningest coach of any sport at UL, where he won
Our prayers today are with his family and the entire UL track & field
And now, let us honor America with our national anthem.
END::: Our prayers are with the Cole family and those of our servicemen who
Living Memorials From Friends and Former Athletes
Gervy Papion(Track 1978-82 – profile posted in AN) Submitted Jan. 15, 2007
He was also a good motivator. “Let’s roll” was how he started every practice.
I won the 1500 meters and set a school record at the Southland Conference Championship in my senior year. I can still hear him cheering me on “Come on Pap, go get “em.”
Submitted Jan. 15, 2007
Hebert E. Stein
Submitted Jan. 17, 2007
I only competed for USL and Coach Cole for 2 years (1968 & 69) as I had started my college track career at Furman University in South Carolina and ran there as a freshman and sophomore. When things didn’t work out there on a number of fronts, one of which was too cold a weather to suit me and to sprint in, I decided to transfer closer to home (New Orleans) and had to make a decision between LSU and USL. In retrospect, I am eternally grateful that I chose USL and got to run for Coach Cole for those 2 years. He allowed me to walk on and during the year I had to sit out to practice and train with the team. As Stewart Blue told me as we discussed Coach during the days following his passing, “he gave everyone a chance.” He definitely gave me mine and I was able to improve dramatically under his guidance in both the long jump and in sprinting (I actually didn’t compete much in the open sprints, but was mainly a relay runner) from the level I had been before coming to USL. I had the privilege of being on some really good relay teams that won conference titles and placed in the national (NAIA) meet while I was at USL and also being a member of the overall 1968 Gulf States Conference champion and runnerup (1969) teams. I will always treasure the friendships I developed with my teammates during those long-ago days and the memories that we still share whenever we talk about those times. Coach Cole made all that possible for me by giving me a chance to be on the team. I wasn’t the only one that he gave that chance to – Lou Lenfant and Harold Landry, both of whom had quite successful track careers at USL, were among my teammates who walked on and Coach decided were “keepers”.
Coach Cole was a master at getting the sprinters and those in other events into condition. Those 550s on Mondays (giving a whole new meaning to the old Fats Domino tune “Blue Monday”) really paid off at conference meet time even though they sometimes induced bad cases of “butt lock” (those who ran the quarter for Coach will know what I’m talking about). Coach Cole was also a master motivator who excelled at instilling a team spirit into a sport that is often viewed as purely an individual one. He always had us really primed the week before the conference championship meet and knew how to give us just the right workouts to bring us to peak condition for those meets.
I can’t close without telling my favorite Coach Cole story (if I told them all, this e-mail would be 10 pages long). After the last event of the 1968 Texas Relays, Coach took the team to a cafeteria at the edge of Austin to eat supper. I had run the last event, the mile relay, and since it was a pretty warm day and I was parched after running the relay, I drank 2-3 glasses of ice tea with my meal, as did others who had competed late in the meet. We had gone up there in 3 university cars, with Coach driving one and I think John McDonnell and someone else driving the others. When we got ready to leave the cafeteria to return to Lafayette, he said “follow me and don’t stop unless I stop”. The other drivers took him at his word, but after about 160-80 miles/3-4 hours on two lane roads and going thru Houston in the days before Interstate 10 ran all the way thru town (no 610-loop back then, either), everyone was wondering if coach would stop soon for a pit stop as that iced tea was working its magic. Finally he did, at the Baytown, Texas exit on I-10 (about four hours after we left Austin) where there was an Esso station with a restroom. Needless to say, everyone made a beeline for it, as Coach laughed and said something about some weak-bladdered wimps (or whatever was the 1968 equivalent of wimps). There are other aspects to this story but they are probably best left out of this posting.
Vaya con Dios, Coach – thanks for the memories.
Herb Stein, Class of 1969
Submitted Jan. 17, 2007
Robert Morris Cole Obituary
LAFAYETTE – Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m., Monday, January 15, 2007 at Fountain Memorial Funeral Home Chapel for Robert Morris Cole, 78, passed away Friday, January 12, 2007 at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Interment will be in Fountain Memorial Cemetery. Rev. Ira Robinson will conduct the service. Mr. Cole was born in Sulphur, LA and a resident of Toledo Bend, LA after his retirement. He was an educator at USL, (ULL) from 1963 through 1984, when he retired. He touched many lives and will be dearly missed and remembered always by family and friends. His survivors include one son, Robert M. Cole, Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth of Duson, LA; one daughter, Donna Voigt Beck and her husband, Jackie of Destin, FL; one granddaughter, Lauren Elizabeth Cole of Duson, LA. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert O’Neil Cole and Grace Cunningham Cole. Pallbearers will be Charles Beazley, Jimmy Barrilleaux, Pat Arceneaux, Edward Domingue, Robert Domingue and Stewart Blue. Honorary pallbearers will be all of the former athletes at USL, (ULL), Sulphur and LaGrange High Schools. The family has requested that visiting hours be observed Sunday, Jan, 14, from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Monday, Jan. 15, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. until service time. The Cole family invites you to view the obituary and send condolences online at www.fountainmemorialfuneralhome.com. Fountain Memorial Funeral Home, (337) 981-7098, 1010 Pandora Street (located behind Adrien’s Supermarket), is in charge of all of the arrangements.
Originally published Jan. 13, 2007
Former UL track coach Cole dies of cancer
Visitation to be held Sunday, funeral Monday
After all the conference championships and All-American honors that Bob Cole helped his UL athletes realize, very few even bothered to mention Friday what they’d accomplished at Cajun Track.
“He was like my daddy,” said former All-American sprinter Harold Porter. “When my father died, I didn’t feel the loss like I felt today.”
“The only way to describe it was a dad-son relationship,” said Pat Arceneaux, captain of Cole’s first Ragin’ Cajun track team in 1964. “My dad died when I was a kid, so he became that to me.”
Cole died Friday morning at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center after a lengthy bout with cancer. Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow, had put him under hospital care for much of the last three months.
“He’s been in a lot of pain the past three months,” said Stewart Blue, who came to then-USL as a discus thrower and left as a standout hurdler under Cole’s tutelage. “But you wouldn’t know if you went to see him. In his own way, he was still teaching the important lessons in life.”
One notable former athlete that went to visit recently was John McDonnell, a record-setting distance runner in the ’60s and now the winningest coach in NCAA history – regardless of sport – as track and field coach at Arkansas. McDonnell received the Outstanding Alumni Award, the highest honor that UL bestows on a former student, during UL’s Homecoming activities last November.
“All those 42 national championships wouldn’t have taken place if it had not been for Bob Cole,” McDonnell said. “He taught me how to motivate athletes.”
Sid Banks, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Germany, joined that service after a stellar Cajun career at Cole’s urging.
“He suggested that I join up and chase a dream,” Banks said. “I have him to thank for me fulfilling that dream.”
Cole came to then-USL in 1963 as head track coach and football assistant coach. One year later, a team filled with 20 freshmen won the first of four straight Gulf States Conference outdoor track titles as well as winning virtually every cross country crown the GSC awarded in that time.
Later, he added a trophy case full of Southland Conference indoor, outdoor and cross country crowns to that resume’.
“He was the one that started the tradition,” Blue said. “There was always the Southwestern Relays, but nobody had built a dynasty in track and field until he got here. He accomplished just as much as what people are accomplishing today with four and five assistants.”
“When he got here my senior year, we weren’t very good,” said Arceneaux, who became Cole’s student assistant – his only assistant – after that year. “He went out and recruited a bunch of area high school kids. He was still a football coach then, so I had to work them like I thought he would.
“The ones that stayed, they became the nucleus.”
Some of those that stayed will serve as pallbearers at Monday’s 1 p.m. funeral services at Fountain Memorial – Blue, Arceneaux, Jimmy Barilleaux, Ed Domingue, Robert Domingue and Charles Beasley. All the athletes that Cole coached until his retirement in 1984.
Visitation will be held from 2 – 8 p.m. Sunday at Fountain Memorial, 1010 Pandora St., off Congress Street. Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, also at Fountain Memorial.
Originally published Jan. 13, 2007