The easy thing would be to tell the funny stories.
Like how he’d explain the inverted-pyramid style of newswriting by saying, “Just think of it as the orgasm first and the foreplay later!”
Or how he’d advise us against overusing the word “unique”: “Nothing is unique except for my lovemaking!”
Or his warning about adding fake type to articles, especially those involving high school wrestlers in which the reporter had written, “He was sucking wind.” Because “the motherf—ing copy editor said, ‘sucking cock! Ho ho ho!’ And guess what showed up in print!” The moral of the story? “Don’t f— around.”
Or the way his syllabi made reference to VDTs and carbon copies. The storage closet of paper piles that was his office, and the way he would have to clear off a chair in order for you to sit. The voicemail greeting one semester that went, “You’ve reached Bob Cole’s office. To allow you the opportunity to . oops . what the f—. BEEP.” (The Signal staffers who would dial his office number over and over, giggling maniacally.)
But everybody gets a funny teacher or two in their academic career. Not everybody gets a great teacher.
One who said, “Call me at home anytime,” and meant it. Who patiently waited after every class as students lined up to talk to him. Who would accept any reasonable excuse for a late paper, and cut overstressed Signal editors some slack if they, say, dozed off in class. Who spoke with such passion about journalism, never sugarcoating the hardships and failings of the profession, but always reminding his classes how vital it is to the workings of a democracy.
I don’t know that I would be in newspapers if not for Bob Cole. I’m sure there are other alumni who would say the same. Over 33 years, that’s some accomplishment.
Best of luck in your retirement, Dr. Cole. Hope it’s good for a laugh or two.