COLE, JR. Charles Chester Cole, Jr., 87, formerly of Columbus, Ohio, died peacefully on June 18, 2010, at the Newark Manor Nursing Home in Newark, DE.
Charles was born September 12, 1922, in Altoona, PA, and grew up in Gettysburg, PA, New York City, and Yonkers, NY. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a 1st Lt. and fighter pilot in the 8th Air Force from 1943-1945.
He married Mary E. Ewald in 1944 and helped raise a family of four daughters.
A lifelong scholar and historian, he dedicated his career to advancing higher education and promoting the humanities. Charles earned his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. in history from Columbia University where, from 1946-1958, he served as Associate Dean of Students and taught American history. He was professor of history, Dean, and Provost at Lafayette College from 1958-1970 and President of Wilson College from 1970-1975. He was Executive Director of the Ohio Humanities Council from 1976-1990, where he became a tireless advocate for the arts and humanities in Ohio.
Upon his retirement, he focused his research and writing on Ohio history. A champion of human and civil rights, Charles participated in the 1963 March on Washington and was an ardent Democrat throughout his life.
He staunchly supported quality public education and promoted higher education as a mentor and advocate, serving for many years on the selection panel for a college scholarship program for children of hotel workers in New York City.
Charles wrote poetry, authored numerous articles on higher education and history and published several books including: Lion of the Forest: James B. Finley, Frontier Reformer (1994) and A Fragile Capital: Identity and the Early Years of Columbus, Ohio (2001).
He received many awards for his work and research efforts, most recently the 2007 Ohioana Pegasus Award, the 2001 Bjornson Award for Distinguished Service in the Humanities from the Ohio Humanities Council, and the 1990 Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Academy of History. Charles was very generous with his time and skills. He volunteered with the Ohioana Library Association, the Board of Directors for Ohio State University Libraries, the Aldus Society, and as juror for the Columbus International Film Festival.
For many years he hosted "Conversations in the Humanities," broadcast on Columbus public access channels. He participated in the World War II Roundtable and reunions of the 361st Fighter Group Association.
He was an avid walker, chocolate addict, loved nature, and enjoyed classical music, theater and art. He shared his passion for the beach with his daughters, making an annual pilgrimage to the Atlantic coast for the month of August. He is survived by his sister, Patricia Ewald; brother, Dan Cole; four daughters, Phyllis Stanley, Dot Briscoe, Barb Sweigard, and Beth Cole; as well as eight grandchildren and three great-grandsons. The family will hold a private memorial service in Newark, DE, on June 26, 2010. Contributions in his honor may be made to the Ohioana Library Association, 274 East 1st Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201-3692, www.ohioana.org
or the Sierra Club, 85 Second Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, www.sierraclub.org
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on June 27, 2010