Richard Cole, Kansas University professor emeritus of philosophy, died peacefully at home after a long illness on April 2, 2013, at age 83. Plans for a memorial service in May are pending.
Richard Cole was born on October 28, 1929, in Evanston, IL, to Harry and Bertha Slavitt Cole. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marjorie Emerson Cole; his brother, Arthur Cole; his sister, Muriel Treadwell; his three children, Mark Cole, Wendy Ashlock, and Aletha Musser; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Growing up during the Great Depression, Richard helped support his family by repairing radios. He continued this work while serving in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s, also serving as a journalist.
He earned a bachelor’s in mathematics from the University of Texas in 1956. After working as a mathematician and programmer on some of the early computers for Douglas Aircraft Co. in Santa Monica, CA, and for Shell Oil Co. in Houston, TX, he decided to pursue an academic career and earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1962.
Professor Cole taught in the philosophy department at KU from 1965 until his retirement in 2001. Before coming to Lawrence, he taught at Colorado College, Grinnell College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa in 1983. His academic specialties were philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, logic, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy. During his tenure at KU, he taught many undergraduates, supervised 10 master’s theses and 12 doctoral dissertations, and was a member of the dissertation committee for 27 others.
Richard loved vigorous examination of ideas of all sorts and often had student groups in his home for discussion sessions on Sunday afternoons. He also enjoyed camping in national parks, walking with his dog, attending operas, and making bad puns. He was very proud of his children and grandchildren and will be much missed.