Longtime SFA supporter Gwen Cole dies

Gwen Cole
Gwen Cole
Ed and Gwen Cole
Ed and Gwen Cole

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Beloved Nacogdoches resident Gwen Cole died Monday morning. The longtime supporter of Stephen F. Austin State University and all of Nacogdoches was 91. By her side through a lingering illness was her husband Ed.

Gwen Cole's legacy continues thanks to the generosity the Coles have bestowed on the community.

You rarely saw one without the other. They were such a busy couple. Ed Cole would joke that his wife had him going to something just about every day of the week.

"She loved to stay on the go, and again, that's indicative to the kind of support she wanted to give to the students and to programs they were involved in," said Dr. Ric Berry, SFA's vice president of academic affairs.

Gwen Cole's passing will be an adjustment for Nacogdoches. Nacogdoches residents will no longer see her at the places that bear her name and that fact was so noted at the most recent SFA gala.

"The Ed and Gwen Cole Concert Hall, the Ed and Gwen Cole Audiology Laboratory, the Ed and Gwen Cole Art Center, the Ed and Gwen Cole Simulation Laboratory," said Jill Still, SFA's vice president of university advancement. "However maybe you've not visited the Ed and Gwen Cole Student Success center unless you're a freshman student."

"Ed and I are just absolutely thrilled and fill privileged to have a part in this facility," Gwen said in a previous East Texas News story.

The Coles' generosity was unique. They had no previous ties to Nacogdoches or SFA before they came to Nacogdoches in 1978. After Ed Cole prospered from some wise business investments, the down-to-earth couple began helping the children they never had.

"She and Ed would come to the final auditions for the scholarship that bears their name, the Cole Scholar, which is one of the top awards that is given in the school of music," Berry said.

SFA president Baker Patillo said Coles recently established a new scholarship through the SFA Alumni Association benefiting students enrolled in the SFA College of Sciences and Mathematics. The scholarship will be awarded to students who are pursuing careers in the STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Gwen Cole was a member of Nacogdoches' First United Methodist Church.

The former savings and loan secretary was gracious, loving, and caring. There is no doubt, Gwen's legacy will live on in many ways.

Gwen's visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the Twilight Ballroom in SFA's Student Center. The funeral will be held at First United Methodist Church of Nacogdoches at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

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