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Coach Robert "Bob" Cole Eulogy Delivered by Stewart Blue, Jan.
Bob Cole Eulogy
Delivered by Stewart Blue, January 15, 2007, Lafayette, LA
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'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard him call;
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To FISH, to love, to HUNT or play.
J Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared a laugh, a kiss;
Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.
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
campus and the finals of the 2007 LSU Purple Tiger Invitational.
Before we begin, please rise for a moment of silence and help us honor a
frequent visitor to the field house in years' past --- former long-time
UL-Lafayette Track & Field Coach Bob Cole, who passed away yesterday in
Coach Cole was the winningest coach of any sport at UL, where he won
numerous indoor, outdoor and cross country titles, and where he produced 42
Track & field All-Americans.
Our prayers today are with his family and the entire UL track & field
< 10 seconds>
And now, let us honor America with our national anthem.
END::: Our prayers are with the Cole family and those of our servicemen who
have given their lives while protecting our great nation.
Presented at LSU Indoor Meet on Jan. 13, 2007