Richard Cole

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.

10 Condolences

  1. Julie McIntyre on April 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Marge, I am so sorry for your loss! My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  2. Heather simons on April 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Marj, I am so sorry for your loss. I regret not staying in better contact, especially after Mama died. I will keep a watchful eye out for when the memorial occurs, as my child and I will definitely attend.

  3. Suzy Hill on April 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Marge, I’m so sorry about Richard. I will miss him in exercise class.

    Thinking of you.

  4. Anita Herzfeld on April 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Dear Marge,
    I am so terribly sorry to hear about your great loss. I am out of the country at the moment,but will stop to see you when I am back home. Meantime my thoughts are with you hoping that the memories of a wonderful relationship will bring you peace. Love, anita

  5. William O. Scott/Bill Scott on April 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Dear Marjorie,
    I was very sorry to hear of the passing of Richard. He was a good philosopher, as far as I could tell, and definitely a good man. I still envision his rounds of campus, though I am in Seattle after my stroke. (I wonder how he survived the horrendous winter of Lawrence.) I think we shared a Chicago orthodoxy (with maybe a bit of heterodoxy

  6. William O. Scott/Bill Scott on April 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Deepest sympathy for a good man and a true model of a professional.

  7. Susan Hickam on April 14, 2013 at 7:01 am

    So sorry to hear of Mr. Cole’s passing-my heart and my prayers are with you while you grieve his presence with you on a daily basis. I remember always feeling welcomed your home as a young girl when I tagged along with my sisters and their friends. Thank you for your kindnesses.

  8. joanne chappell on April 14, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I am sorry to hear about your loss. I maybe met your husband once, but I know your children.

  9. Juana L. Simons on April 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Marjorie, Mark, Wendy and Aletha – please accept my condolences for your loss. I remember you all and your home with great fondness. I am in Lawrence, so please call on me if you need anything.

  10. Jim and Laurie Swindler on April 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Our deepest condolences. Richard was a wonderful man, a great teacher and mentor, and a good friend. He left a deep impression on our lives. We are forever grateful for having known you both and we mourn your loss.
    Jim and Laurie Swindler

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