Nature 36

Dr. George E. Cole

February 28, 1935 ~ November 14, 2020 (age 85)

Obituary

Dr. George E Cole, age 85 of Escanaba, passed away peacefully at his home Saturday, November 14, 2020with family at his side. He was born February 28, 1935, to Peggy and Harold Cole in Lake Twp., MI. He married his soulmate, Milly, at Michigan State University Chapel on July 17, 1965.

Together, the couple were blessed with 4 children, Eric, Kevin, Jason, and Nikki Lynn; and grandchildren, Jacklyn, Brianna, Derek, Gracelynn, Aaron, Sabrina, and Savannah.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Peggy and Harold Cole; his brothers, Ben & Skippy.

He is survived by his wife, Milly; sons, Eric VanGuaard of Phoenix, AZ,  Kevin Leonidas (Molly) of Green Bay, WI, and Jason Harold of Phoenix, AZ; daughter, Nikki Lynn of Escanaba, MI; granddaughters, Jacklyn and Brianna of Green Bay, WI, Sabrina and Savannah of Phoenix, AZ, and Gracelynn of Escanaba, MI; grandsons Derek of Green Bay, WI, and Aaron of Escanaba; and his sister, Bonnie (John) of Franklin, WI.

George graduated from Stephenson High School in 1952. He enrolled in Michigan State University in the fall of graduation. During his second year, he joined the Marine Corps for a 3-year hitch. While doing so, he studied Meteorology in Annapolis, MD and became a weatherman. He was stationed in the Mojave Desert of California. From the weather tower observatory, he witnessed several unidentified flying objects.  After reporting to his superiors, he was swiftly relocated to Japan where he finished the remainder of his service as a weatherman. He acquired a black belt in judo during his stay. George was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant.  

He pursued his studies and received his Bachelors Degree in Social Science, followed by a Master’s Degree MAT Master of Arts and Teaching Philosophy, and a PhD in Administration and Higher Education - including a double cognate in Social Science. His doctoral thesis involved a lot of research and tabulation. “The Objectives of the Justin Morrill College as Perceived by its Members.”  He was the head advisor at Snyder Hall, MSU while he worked on his program.

Upon completion of his Master’s Degree, he was hired at General Motors Institute, an engineering college in Flint Michigan. He was a guidance counselor in the student affairs department. He continued his studies at MSU and earned a PhD in 1967.

He then accepted a position at Oakland County Community College. George was later asked to help open Wayne County Community College as Vice President of Academic Affairs. He later moved to accept the position as College President of Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon, IL. He served the community for 8 years. He was successful in annexing several school districts to the college.  Under his leadership and with the help of his wife and her passion for the arts & crafts, he held annual art festivals that were termed as a “smashing success!” The entire community participated and assisted in the success of the festivals.

In 1979, he returned to his beloved homeland to pursue a life of semi-retirement of tree management and farming. An unrealized benefit in which transformed his 3 sons into productive hard workers.

In 1988, he accepted a part-time teaching position at Bay De Noc Community College at the Iron Mountain branch and later became full-time faculty member at the main campus in Escanaba. At Bay College, he taught his favorite topic, Western Civilization, as well as philosophy, anthropology, psychology, economics, and sociology for over 22 years.

In the late 1990's, George and Milly returned to Northern Michigan University and took several classes in creative writing. He was conferred the degree of Master of Arts. For his thesis, George wrote about his experiences at deer camp, “The Camp of the Green Dragon.” He also appeared in a documentary “Good Man in the Woods.”

He retired from teaching in 2006, and slipped into retirement working on his tree farm and adding to his lumber collection. He also spent time in his fully equipped wood working shop where he made furniture for family and friends.  One of his specialties was making trestle tables.

However, his passion was in education.  He was fair, realistic, and down to earth. George was recognized for his dedication and excellence he provided his students and college. He had a broad academic background in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Professional Education.  He earned over 600 credit hours. George enjoyed learning and felt education is an ongoing process between the student and teacher and felt it requires continuing education on the part of the teacher involving a give and take between student and teacher, with both learning from the process. On his student evaluation, his students said his class was an enjoyable and informative experience. George was a story teller. He will be sadly missed.

A celebration of Life and Marine Corps Tribute has been scheduled for Saturday, July 17th of 2021, at 11:00 a.m., at the Veteran’s Memorial in Ludington Park in Escanaba, followed by a luncheon at the pavilion and live music. 

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