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Books honor memory of a storied educator

This article was published 9 months ago.

Kevin Cole, second from right, reflects on the legacy of his father, Dr. Fred Cole, as, from left, his wife Leslie, his grand-children Keegan and Harrison, and brother Chris look on while making a donation of books to Lynn's Harrington Elementary School in honor of his father on Tuesday. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — Family, friends, and colleagues of former Executive Director of the Lynn Business Education Foundation, and former Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fred Cole, gathered among city officials in the Harrington School library Tuesday morning to donate 24 books to the school in Cole’s memory.

In the Harrington School library, seven months after Cole’s death in January, his son, Kevin Cole, spoke about his father’s love for the school and his passion for education.

“He started his career here, the first place he taught was Harrington,” Kevin said. “Dad loved the City of Lynn very much, [he was a] true Lynner, born and bred. Every time somebody talks about Harrington, I think of my dad because of what it means to him.” 

After Kevin’s speech, Lynn Interim Superintendent of Schools Debra Ruggiero spoke about how she, as a former Harrington principal herself, felt a kindred connection to Cole. 

“I also started my career here, was a principal here, and a piece of my heart is still here. My children ran through these hallways,” Ruggiero said. “As an educator in Lynn, I always heard about Dr. Cole and his great work, but I really got to know him when I became principal. I got to experience his work through the Lynn Business Education Foundation, he truly had a passion for children, his profession, and most importantly, his family. He and I always talked about our mutual connection to Harrington School and our love for the spirit within these walls. His spirit and passion will live on with these gifts to the Harrington School library.”

In a brief speech, Mayor Jared Nicholson said that Cole’s legacy was a treasure for the community and city.

“Dr. Cole was so generous with his time and advice when I first reached out to him, and I think he’s just an example of the civic legacy that is a treasure for our community. He continues to be a role model for me, and his community, and the city. His belief in the ideals that underlie a free society were really special and we’re lucky to have that legacy carried forward,” Nicholson said.

Co-Executive Directors of Lynn Business Education Foundation Jack Greeley and Gale Thomas said that the preservation of Cole’s legacy and vision for education is one of the primary reasons why the foundation still exists.

“We took Fred’s place, and he was such an incredible human being. He did so much for the City of Lynn, for education, for the public. He was on every board there is, and he kept his Business Ed foundation going well into his retirement. As a matter of fact, he did not stop doing this until he was 90-years-old,” Thomas said. 

“He retired at 87 because his eyes were going, and his age was catching up to him, but he was involved, and it took two of us to do even half the job that he was able to do all those years,” Greeley said. “He was a super guy, and Lynn Business Ed was a tribute to him. We’re keeping it going for Fred.”

The books that the Cole family donated range in reading level from kindergarten to the fifth grade. The donation comprised of a mixture of Spanish and English language books. Harrington Principal Lissa Jussaume said that although she never met Cole, his legacy and influence remains ingrained in the city and the school. 

“Personally, I did not have the pleasure of knowing or meeting Fred Cole, but every single person that has ever mentioned his name has spoken about him with love and just what an incredible leader he was for the City of Lynn. It’s a legacy that, I think, we all felt here at the Harrington School,” Jussaume said.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at anthony@itemlive.com.

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