University of Alaska Professor Emeritus Dr. Terrence Cole passed away Dec. 12, 2020 at the age of 67. He was the brother of writer Dermot Cole.
Terrence Cole was a professor of Northern Studies and History and was the director of the Office of Public History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He authored five books and retired from teaching several years ago. His death was attributed to stomach cancer.
“Through his five books, many lectures, articles, public appearances, and his passion for adventure, he helped us all understand our history as Alaskans and how we came to be this way. He mentored countless graduate students and was twice selected Teacher of the Year by them,” wrote Pat Pitney, interim University of Alaska president.
“It would be difficult to overstate Dr. Cole’s contributions to UAF and to the public understanding of Alaska’s history,” wrote UAF Chancellor Dan White. “In his three decades as a professor at UAF, scores of students benefited from his enthusiastic approach to teaching. He was a champion for history education, not just in college, but also in middle and high school through his work with the National History Day program. His books have guided countless readers through the stories of Alaska’s statehood, the founding of Fairbanks and the establishment of the university. His work and presence have left an indelible mark at UAF and he will be greatly missed.”
Cole was perhaps a Democrat at heart, although he was a registered undeclared voter. He saw the world through the prism of progressive ideology and taught and wrote informed by that particular view of the world.
In recent years, he wrote prolifically about the failings of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
In July of 2019, he advocated for recalling Gov. Mike Dunleavy, writing in an op-ed that “Maybe the kindest thing to say about Gov. Mike Dunleavy is he has no idea what he is doing. Perhaps he is so stunningly incompetent he does not have a clue.”
“As a teacher, Dunleavy was the biggest pencil in the classroom, not necessarily the sharpest. And as governor, perhaps he lacks the insight to fathom the hardships he is perpetuating upon tens of thousands of Alaskans from all walks of life, indirectly hurting thousands more who don’t yet realize the ramifications of his extremist ideology — who don’t understand, like the governor himself, that every economy and society is a complex patchwork of invisible connections. Tear one strand and bring down the web,” Cole wrote, adding that Dunleavy is unimaginative, uniformed and willfully blind, Also a liar and a “barking dog.” That was just one essay; he had several more printed by the ADN that were equally colorful in describing the governor.
Of Congressman Don Young, Cole wrote an op-ed earlier this year that he would be forever defined by his comments on the “beer virus.”
“Don Young will probably go down in history as the poster boy for COVID-19 ignorance and arrogance, but that is not completely fair. From the President on down, there are too many politicians and political ideologues to count who belong there with him,” Cole wrote in one of his regular columns in the Anchorage Daily News.
The University of Alaska Press honored Terrence’s life and legacy with the publication of “The Big Wild Soul of Terrence Cole.” This collection of essays by twin brother, Dermot, along with friends, colleagues, and students documented how Terrence and his work impacted them. The essays capture the essence of his spirit and the human experience in Alaska.
“In reflecting on Terrence’s prolific and amazing life, it is clear that he was beloved by many. To all who will miss his spirit and great humor, we send our deepest condolences,” Pitney wrote.