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Obituary & Article: Robert "Bob" Cole - Head Track & Field Coach 63-84, Asst. FB Coach - 1/12/2007
Robert Morris Cole Obituary
(October 7, 1928 - January 12, 2007)
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
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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.
To a man, though, they talked about the father figure they lost Friday.
"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."
Hundreds of former Cajun tracksters felt the same way, and will tell those stories all weekend when they assemble to say goodbye to the man who won more conference titles than any coach in the school's athletic history.
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 in the Daily Advertiser, Jan. 13, 2007