Note: OBIT: Waco Tribune, Waco TX, 7 June 2014
Dr. James Franklin Cole died peacefully at his home surrounded by family and friends on Thursday, June 5, 2014. A memorial service celebrating Dr. Cole's life will be 11 a.m., Saturday, June 28, at Truett Seminary.
He was born on September 19, 1920 in Trenton, Tennessee to Dr. and Mrs. Ira Cole. A strong advocate of religious and academic freedom, Dr. Cole was a soldier, minister, editor, author, administrator, and humorist.
He received his Bachelor of Arts from Union University prior to volunteering for the U.S. Army and fighting in five European campaigns in WWII, including D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. For his military service, he was awarded The Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground combat. Setting aside his previous plans to become a businessman, Dr. Cole was called to the ministry as a result of his experience in battle. After WWII, he attended graduate school at Baylor University, where he met his wife, Helen Witten Cole. He earned his seminary degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary and his doctorate from Louisiana College. He pastored several churches in Texas in his early years of ministry and was then called to pastor First Baptist Church of DeRidder, Louisiana. Subsequently, he was asked to serve as editor of The Baptist Message, "state Baptist paper of Louisiana" which tackled contemporary debates about the Baptist faith in the modern word. From this post, Dr. Cole advocated for religious liberty, equality, and civil rights.
After serving as President of the Baylor Alumni Association, Dr. Cole returned to Waco and his beloved Baylor where he was hired as Executive Vice President for the Baylor Alumni Association. During his tenure, Dr. Cole worked closely with his dear friend, Baylor President Herbert H. Reynolds, to advance the University's mission, to foster alumni relations, and to ensure Baylor's independence from the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Cole's dry sense of humor was well-known in contentious situations surrounding Baylor and Baptist life. He often said, "The only thing two Baptists can agree on is what the third ought to give." Bespeaking his love and dedication to Baylor and the Baylor Alumni Association, a monument was erected in front of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center. He was a recipient of W.R. Wright Meritorious Service Award for his contributions to the Baylor community.
Dr. Cole retired in 1991 and thereafter continued to enjoy life in Waco. He and his late wife, Helen, would often be seen eating dinner around town, attending Baylor sporting events, and corralling their grandchildren.
Dr. Cole was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Helen; their infant son, James Franklin Cole, Jr.; and his granddaughter, Allison Ann Bucy.
He is survived by his sister, Frances Kolb of Jackson, Tennessee; his daughter, Carolyn Ann Cole (Meyer) of Waco; and his grandsons, James Cole Bucy and wife, Skye Perryman, of Washington, DC and Jason Patterson Bucy of Los Angeles, California; and step-grandsons, Mike Meyer and wife, Nadine and their children, Emme and Parke, and Brady Meyer, all of Dallas. He is also survived by his niece, Becky Kolb and nephew, David Kolb and family, of Tennessee, as well as a host of cousins, including Linda and Jim Hardwick of Waco, and the Honorable Jaclynel McFarland of Houston.
Dr. Cole's family would like to express their deep appreciation to Martin and Jose Guerrero, and Jamie and Rachel of Bluebonnet Hospice for their tender care of Dr. Cole in the final days of his life.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Dr. Cole's memory may donate to The Baylor School of Social Work (One Bear Place #97320, Waco, Texas 76798-7320), where students are taught to serve others. Dr. Cole's life and legacy was one of service, no matter the cost to himself.
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