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Claude Lathrop Cole, principal of the Reno County High School at Nickerson, had been identified with educational work and administration in Kansas for the past four years, but his teaching experience covers almost twenty years and in a number of the Middle Western states. Wherever he had been it had been the testimony that Mr. Cole had been successful in giving vitality and increased efficiency to the schools under his direction, and such had been the character of his work that he deserves the name educator as an appropriate means of distinguishing him from one who merely teaches or administers a school. In the words of the assistant secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of Missouri his qualifications rest “not so much in his college degree as in his strong personality.” Since their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Cole have usually been associated in their school work and one of the prominent lawyers of North Dakota in a town where they taught said of them: “They possess both noble and cheerful qualities which are essential to successful school work and they are able in a marked degree to command the respect and hearty co-operation of the pupils in all the grades. From four years of intimate acquaintance with them are measured their work and influence as teachers. Their physical characteristics are perfect, education comprehensive, morals above reproach, social qualities of high order, excellent musicians, faithful, honest and efficient teachers–the kind of people that make a community better and a little more cheerful because of their having lived in it.”
For all his long and very thorough experience Mr. Cole is still a young man, born at Plymouth, Iowa, December 21, 1880. He comes of old American Colonial stock and for several generations identified with the Pine Tree State of Maine. There is a record that this branch of the Cole family immigrated from England to Massachusetts as early as 1634. From there they went into Maine and Mr. Cole’s grandfather, Eben N. Cole, was born in that state in 1818. Eben Cole lived the life of a substantial farmer in Maine and in 1869 he went to Mason City, Iowa, where as an early settler he homesteaded 160 acres. He was a very successful man and in the course of time owned 640 acres of rich Iowa farm land, and at his death, which occurred at Mason City in 1908, he divided this land among his children.
Llewellyn Cole, father of Professor Cole, was born March 1, 1847, at Bangor, Maine, grew up there, and in 1869 went to Plymouth, Iowa, where for twenty years he was local agent for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. He then moved to his farm six miles west of Plymouth, but since 1908 he and his wife have lived retired at Los Angeles, California. He is a democrat in politics, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and of the Masonic fraternity. Llewellyn Cole married Clara Maria Stevens. She was born in Indiana in 1854. They reared a large family of children who have made for themselves worthy places in the world: Charles B., a railway mail clerk living at Mason City, Iowa; Llewellyn A., Jr., a resident of Los Angeles and manager of an elevator; Eben N., who lives at Long Beach, California, and is connected with the Long Beach Gas Company; Claude L., who is fourth in age among the family; Clifton De Forest, local agent for the Frisco Railway at Hancock, Missouri; Frank R., employed in the roundhouse of the Chicago Northwestern Railway at Mason City, Iowa; Ferdinand, connected with the Long Beach Gas Company at Long Beach, California; Lilian A., wife of Roy Stevens and living with her parents in Los Angeles; and Alvah, who lives at Los Angeles and is employed by a gas and light company.
Claude L. Cole spent much of his youth and boyhood at Mason City, Iowa, where he attended schools. He is as much a student today with the possession of half a dozen degrees and certificates as he was in boyhood. He was in Mason City from 1895 to 1898, and began teaching in the rural schools of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, during the year 1899-1900. During the summer of 1900 and the spring of 1901 he was a student in the Iowa State Normal School at Cedar Falls. Throughout his educational experience Mr. Cole had been able to render special service through his well trained talents in music. He was assistant principal and musical director of the high school at Thornton (Iowa) in 1901-02; was principal of the Sparta (Missouri) High School, 1904-05; principal of the Maywood (Nebraska) High School, 1905-06; principal of the Eustis (Nebraska) High School, 1906-08; instructor and musical director Frontier County (Nebraska) Teachers’ Institute, 1905-06; superintendent of the public schools of Page (North Dakota) in 1908-09; director of music at the University High School and Young Men’s Christian Association of Columbia (Missouri), 1909-11; instructor Psychology and History in the Northwestern Summer School at Velva (North Dakota) in the summers of 1912-13.
In the meantime Mr. Cole had continued his studies in various schools and institutions. In 1907 he graduated from the Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney. He was given the Bachelor of Science degree by Fremont College, Nebraska, in 1908, and in 1909 the same school awarded him the degree A. B. and Bachelor of Pedagogy. During the summer quarter of 1910 he was a student in the University of Chicago Law School, and in 1911 received his law degree from the University of Missouri, but so far had found educational work too absorbing an interest to allow him to practice. In 1911 he also received the degree Bachelor of Education from the Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney, and in 1912 the University of Missouri awarded him the degree A. B. and Bachelor of Science in education. In 1913 he was again a graduate student at the summer session of the University of Missouri and in 1916 that state university gave him the degree Master of Arts.
Some of the most appreciated work that Mr. and Mrs. Cole did was at Bottineau, North Dakota, where he was superintendent of the public schools from 1911 to 1913. From that position he came to Kansas in 1913 as principal of the Chase County High School at Cottonwood Falls and left that institution in the fall of 1916 to become principal of the Reno County High School at Nickerson.
Mr. Cole possesses life certificates as a teacher from the states of Nebraska and Missouri and also first grade certificates from Iowa and Kansas. He served two years as president of the Bottineau County Teachers’ Association in North Dakota, and is now an active member of the Kansas State Teachers’ Association. Under his supervision at Nickerson he had a staff of 20 teachers and an enrollment of 350 scholars in the county high school. Much of the success attending his work is due to his versatile abilities. Reference had already been made to his musical talent and he had directed many orchestras, bands and choruses and also had a supervising knowledge of such subjects as domestic science, manual training and agriculture.
In politics Mr. Cole is a republican, is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, had always been interested in Masonry, his affiliations being with Tuscan Lodge No. 44, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Bottineau, North Dakota; Phoenicia Chapter No. 17, Royal Arch Masons, at Bottineau; Bottineau Chapter of the Eastern Star; Kem Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Grand Forks, North Dakota; Lorraine Commandery No. 13, Knights Templar; and Topeka Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite.
As the former president of the Nebraska State Normal School said, Mr. Cole had a tower of strength in his wife, who had distinguished herself by her teaching ability and also as a woman of thorough culture and refinement. Mr. Cole and Miss Lilian Nielsen were married at Garner, Iowa, September 9, 1902. She is a daughter of James P. and Marion (Loveland) Nielsen. Her father was a general merchant in Iowa and died in the spring of 1917. Her mother now lives at Manly, Iowa.