Books honor the memory of a famous educator

Kevin Cole, second from right, reflects on the legacy of his father, Dr. Fred Cole, behind, while, from left, his wife Leslie, grandchildren Keegan and Harrison and brother Chris look on as they donate books to Lynn at 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, among city officials gathered at the Harrington School library on Tuesday morning to donate 24 books to the school in Cole’s remembrance.

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

“He started his career here, the first place he taught was Harrington,” said Kevin. “Father loved the town of Lynn very much, [he was a] real Lynner, born and raised. Every time someone talks about Harrington, I think of my dad because it means something to him.”

Following Kevin’s speech, Lynn Interim Superintendent of Schools Debra Ruggiero spoke about how, as a former Harrington principal, she 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 kids used to run down those aisles,” Ruggiero said. “As an educator at Lynn, I’ve always heard from Dr. Heard Cole and his amazing work, but I really got to know him when I became Principal. I got to know his work through the Lynn Business Education Foundation, he really had a passion for children, his job and most importantly his family. He and I always talked about our mutual connection to the Harrington School and our love for the spirit within those walls. His spirit and passion will live on in these gifts to the Harrington School Library.”

In a brief speech, Mayor Jared Nicholson said Cole’s legacy is a treasure to the community and the city.

“Dr. Cole was so generous with his time and advice when I first contacted him and I think he is just one example of the civic legacy that is a treasure for our community. He continues to be a role model for me, his community and the city. His belief in the ideals that underpin a free society was truly special and we are fortunate to continue that legacy,” said Nicholson.

Lynn Business Education Foundation co-executive directors Jack Greeley and Gale Thomas said that preserving Cole’s legacy and vision for education is one of the key reasons the foundation continues to exist.

“We took Fred’s place and he was such an incredible person. He’s done so much for the town of Lynn, for education, for the community. He’s served on every board of directors there is, and he’s kept his Business Ed foundation going well into his retirement. In fact, he didn’t stop until he was 90,” Thomas said.

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

The books donated by the Cole family range from kindergarten through fifth grade. The donation consisted of a mixture of books in Spanish and English. Harrington Principal Lissa Jussaume said that although she never met Cole, his legacy and influence remain ingrained in the town and school.

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

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at [email protected]

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