NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Longtime SFA benefactor Ed Cole died Thursday at the age of 97.
One cannot venture onto the Stephen F. Austin State University without seeing Ed and Gwen Cole’s names. Gwen Cole died in 2014.
The couple’s names can be found on at least six buildings on the same campus.
“For all of our SFA School of Music grads, and, in fact, SFA grads in general, I am sad to have to announce the passing at 8 a.m. this morning of Ed Cole,” Dr. Gary Wurtz, the director of SFA’s School of Music. “I know this will bring many of you to tears. He and his late wife Gwen were amazing and dear people, and incredible supporters of our school and our students.”
The Coles never had children, but they sent thousands of young people to college. There are endowed scholarships at SFA in their names for music, theater, basketball, audiology, and STEM.
Wurtz said in his Facebook post that, on more than one occasion, the Coles told him that they thought of SFA’s students as their children.
Dr. Scott Gordon, SFA’s president, and Dr. Steve Westbrook, SFA’s vice president of university affairs, said that although the Coles will be missed, their legacy will carry on.
“This terrible news is coupled with the fact that we buried another great friend and supporter, Mrs. Peggy Wright, this past Monday afternoon,” Wutz wrote in his Facebook post. “She and her late husband Tom were long-time supporters of the university and the School of Music. In case you don’t know, Mrs. Wright got a degree in music from SFA in 1944 and was named the Outstanding Alumna from the School of Music in 2017.”
Wurtz pointed out that the SFA music building is named after the Wrights and the college’s concert hall is named after the Coles.
“Additionally, the Wrights endowed several funds that support our students and operations, and each year a freshman student is selected as the Ed and Gwen Cole Scholar, which provides them with a four-year scholarship,” Wurtz said in his Facebook post.
We’ll have more information on Ed Cole’s death later today.