Passings: Terrence Cole, author, professor, critic - Must Read Alaska
Connect with:
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
HomeAlmanacPassings: Terrence Cole, author, professor, critic

Passings: Terrence Cole, author, professor, critic


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.

Donations Welcome


Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments


    • Very mature. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful insight on a deceased man who battled cancer for the last four years. I hope you have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

      • How do you know she is cheering Cole’s death? I thought this was a nicely done memory piece of Mr. Cole, with a complimentary cheer.
        Only a Democrat sees it differently.

      • What did Bill Maher say when David Koch, a humanitarian and philanthropist, died? “I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful.”

        • Interesting. Terrence Cole said the same thing about Ronald Reagan. What goes around, comes around…….Terrence.

    • Shameful, really. And probably coming from someone who professes to be a Christian to boot!

      • Cry me a bucket of FAKE liberal tears!

  • RIP, Dr. Cole. Now, having said that, I’d like to shed a bit more light on Dr. Cole and his brothers, Dermot and Pat.
    Terrence was an academician trained under the tutelage of his UAF mentor, Dr. Claus Naske. Naske was also a tenured History professor with an over-charged ego and a penchant towards being uncivil toward anyone who disagreed with him politically.
    Dr. Cole picked up that hateful trait of Dr. Naske, but masked it with humor and a smile, something Naske lacked.
    Dr. Cole outright rejected Conservatism and Republicans. This became obvious in his classroom setting, interjecting historical fact with opportunities galore to pour on the invective during a 50-minute lecture. Jimmy Carter, good. Ronald Reagan, bad. The Clinton’s and Barak Obama, perfect. Donald Trump, a Nazi. These thematics, along with a generous dose of extreme, cultural Left-wing rhetoric, was being pushed out during Cole’s 30- years of classroom opining. The UAF School of Northern Studies is the campus hot bed for brainwashing young minds and grooming them for a life of liberal leanings and Democrat Party involvement. Dr. Cole carried his political torch into his classroom everyday for those 30-years, infecting the thinking process of young minds. The students in Cole’s classes who were not pursuaded into that opinionated revisionism are to be commended for their loyalty to independent thought and logic.
    Will the UA name a building after Dr. Cole? The City of Fairbanks named their city hall after Pat Cole, a Democrat and life-long bureaucrat who never ran for office, and collected many paychecks off the backs of property owners. The other brother, Dermot Cole, served his 30-year career with the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, echoing the political ideology of his identical twin, Terrence, but doing it through disingenuous reporting and using the newspaper as a call to arms for Democrats. Neither brother was a purveyor of factual assignment and neutrality, opting instead for partisan growth and radical division within the community.
    It’s a strange thing that the University of Alaska President and the UAF Chancellor would throw so much praise and weight to a professor who often strayed far from historical facts and the time-honored principles of pure instruction. Dr. Cole’s Leftist rhetoric and his hateful proclivities towards Conservatism are legion at the UAF. There have been many solid professors in the University system who came to their classrooms with one objective:
    to teach students the truthful facts and give them the tools to think for themselves and draw independent conclusions through their own thinking. Dr. Cole was not one of those professors.

    • Marla, thank you so much for posting all that information on Mr. Cole. And you are absolutely correct, in almost everything I had ever read from Terrence Cole, his political biases and hyper-partisanship were both obvious and virtually all-consuming. Which, of course, is just par for the course with arrogant and authoritarian leftists, of which he was undeniably one such.

      • Well, someone had to try to deflect the arrogant, hyper-partisan, authoritarian rightist rants of our departing President and soon-to-be-recalled Trump wanna-be governor. History is as much subject to interpretation as is Shakespeare (who wrote plays called “histories”), and it seems to me that Mr./Dr. Cole was a singular voice, advocating for a more humane understanding of the past, amidst the myriad outpourings of authoritarian, right wing, reactionary historians who pick and choose what they believe from the menu of ultra-rightwing revisionist history.
        Perhaps I exaggerate. Perhaps not. Just because someone gets a check from the state or the borough doesn’t mean he is a lazy slacker. He might actually be doing something that makes the world a little bit better place.

        • Terrence Cole was not humane. He was a snarky Leftist who hated America and sided with Communist thinkers. So would I actually call him a Communist in the truest definitional form? No. He made steady payroll at the UAF for over 30-years. That calculated out to over $2.5 million with benefits. A millionaire. Book royalties would also be considered free market add-ons to salary (even though his books didn’t sell very well, except to a few Democrats who kissed his a$$). And, he got free office space at UAF, free parking, a research assistant (otherwise known as a grad student), and carte blanch use of the library facility. A wealthy man, by any standard, teaching 18-year old freshman students to hate America, Conservatives, and Republicans. So, here we had another hypocrite who used the system unapologetically and now we are supposed to honor him with resounding farewell and another last lecture?
          I’ll pass.

      • Agree with Jefferson. It’s always nice to hear the truth about a revered Leftist who made a very good living poisoning the minds of our young people.

    • Could you please provide one example of how Dr. Cole has twisted the facts and provided a “leftist” analysis of Alaska history in any of his numerous peer-reviewed publications written for the scholarly community? Dr. Cole may have had his beliefs and politics. We all do. But if you’re going to diminish the man’s 30 year career, his accomplishments and the thousands of students and colleagues who obviously have a favorable impression of him, you’d be on more solid ground if you offered evidence rather than invective. Naturally, the MRA crowd will lap up your hot take and form an ironclad opinion of a deceased man they’ve never had the privilege to meet, but I’d strongly encourage them to instead read the man’s scholarship and learn more about Alaska’s fascinating history.

      • James is a disciple of the radical Left. James, did you ever go to any of Cole’s lectures? This guy Cole couldn’t contain or suppress his hatred for Republicans. He was a rather lousy public speaker too. Both he and Dermot. Ramblers and twitchy behind the podium. Nothing special, except direct appeal to other hateful Democrats. And as far as his writings, not doctoral level. Cole was a historian who borrowed everything from the UAF microfilm files where Alaska newpaper articles contained the gems and nuggets of the day. Cole twisted the facts around to suit his own revisionist style, which usually was an unconcealed jab at Republicans and Conservatives. Say what you want, James. Marla has provided an honest portrait of what Terrence Cole really was:. a smart aleck professor who played his contorted version of history in a package suitable for Lefties.

        ps. his books are not very good either. He used Epicenter Press to launch, but sales were modest at best. Dermot was the better writer, but his material is also written for Democrat audiences. Not a fan now, or ever.

      • James, that you would try to deny Mr. Cole’s obvious and constant “leftist” political bent only discredits yourself from being taken seriously here. But as we all know, denial of reality is part-and-parcel of the contemporary “leftist” (which is in actuality the Marxist and authoritarian) movement.

        • Jose and Jefferson, Please provide me a list of your publications. I’m always on the hunt for solid scholarship, regardless of its political bent. If you’ve published your own peer-reviewed research on topics related to U.S. history, Alaska history, or political history more generally, I’d most certainly welcome the opportunity to read a countervailing interpretation to what you perceive as Dr. Cole’s “radical leftism.” A Merry Christmas to you both.

          • James, I doubt that either Jefferson or Jose have to produce any form of writing to you other than what they have offered as opinions here at Must Read. And your elicitation for “scholarly articles” and “peer reviewing” is based on what? I don’t think they are auditioning for any validation of their own musings through you.
            I sense a deep loss has occured for you. Maybe Terrence Cole was your best friend. Or maybe you and he were colleagues in the History Department.
            The well-established points made in this comment section is that Terrence Cole was not appreciated, nor was he respected, by many people of opposing viewpoints. The takeaway here is simply this: students and people in the community expect a History professor, who is also a public servant receiving a state salary and later a retirement pension, to maintain a level of neutrality in the classroom. Apparently Mr. Cole did not do this. Revisionism, with very heavy-handed opinion and an outward hostility towards a differing political philosophy, does not achieve the goal of teaching. Nor does it foster the second aim, which is to promote an independent learning process for young minds. Mr. Cole took political sides and spent his entire career agendizing History through his own political lens. Students and others in the community will remember him for that, much more than they will ever remember him for his books or his writings.

          • Good reply by Dr. Dan to James. These “James types” always try pulling rank on those that disagree with them, proving only to themselves that they have a superior intellect. Their common sense never shows through, but their hate shows through in spades. Must Read Alaska articles by Suzanne, and the brilliant comments submitted by her loyal readers, ARE the PEER REVIEWS.

      • James:
        April 2007 at UAF. Dr. Cole began his History lecture with a diatribe against President Bush and how fu*king stupid Bush was for pushing the surge in troop strength in the Middle East. I told Professor Cole that I didn’t appreciate his comment, especially since I had just served in the military and returned from Iraq. Mr. Cole’s insensitivity and ignorance of the US military was appalling to me. To me, this was a man who hated his country.

      • James, we are amongst the few who try to promote rational thought on this website, but unfortunately our exhortations have little effect.

        Generally, one finds nothing on MRAK except hatred, closed minds, and Suzanne-sychophancy.

        But we never relent.

        • So…….why are you here, if you dislike MRAK? Go back to your Communist Manifesto and your rocking chair…. …and your CNN…..and your medical marijuana.

    • Thank you for this excellent summary. This nasty Leftist will be missed only by a few brain-washed disgusting minions.

  • Politically, he was an —. However, I would not wish cancer on anyone.


  • In death, he now knows there is a God who knows all history if he hadn’t already accepted Jesus Christ offering while he suffered in pain living with stomach cancer. Let’s hope someone shared the Gospel of Christ before he exhaled his last breath. For all the successes, accomplishments, and intelligence we achieve in this world, a life without Christ is poor and nothing. Why is it these days my parents generation born between 1939-1960 are mostly dying without any mention they are believers in their obituaries and faithfully obediently followed sharing that gospel to all those around them? that’s the most concerning of all. This is who the Alaska Democrat Party elevated with their words of wisdom for its young democrats today, no surprise why the younger democrats under 49 are the way they are today why they politically act the way they do after having teachers like this man and his brother. By his lifetime highlights sounds like no one shared Christ with him. he is leaving an empty future and ending in regret to the young democrats. Maybe there is hope on his final hours he opened the scripture when his own knowledge and wisdom was inadequate comforting him for getting through the stomach cancer he experienced. But, even if he humbled himself in his final hours, it was too late passing on the greatest inheritance of all on to the young democrats.

    • Very humane review by Jen, above. In the end, Dr. Cole’s repentence, if any, is immaterial to the bitter legacy he left behind. While some will always regard him as a wise man, sputtering Liberalism from his little professor’s pulpit at UA, most will regard him as a profoundly partisan hack who spent his career finding various methods to preach his hate against conservatives and Republicans. In the end, this will be his legacy. A nasty, ill-tempered old man, who used his students and the Democrat community at large to further aggrandize himself with articles written about him by his identical twin brother, Dermot.

      • Yeah……that twin, Dermot. Actually, Dermot gave a huge boost to Terrence through Dermot’s position as Editor at the Fairbanks Newsminer. Most History professors live somewhat reclusive lives and don’t garner much attention outside of the university. Dermot made sure that that the Democrats in and around Fairbanks, and even around the state, reviewed Terrence’s work as outstanding. This allowed Terrence higher visibility and accessed him to some appearances on the History Channel and other documentaries. Those twins could yoyo their hype off of each other for greater impact among the Democrat audience.
        Were the Cole brothers good representatives for Alaska? Not really. Neither were very good public speakers and had strange physical idiosyncracies and behaviors behind the lecturn. It was rather funny to watch them operate. They rambled and twitched. But they made inroads to the Democrats and far Lefties. They gave the Left what they wanted to hear, that is, Republicans bad. Conservatives Bad. Conservative government bad. Socialism good. More funding to government. Big government good. They had a narrow audience of Leftists and university types who believed the same things. As for writing creds, the Cole’s were always predictable and average in the creative end. Grade:. C for Terrence. C+ for Dermot. There are far better writers and historians for Alaska.

        • Suzanne, to name one. Far and away, Suzanne writes clearly, cogently and confidently, and smoothly. A joy to read! A+.

  • I have nothing good to say about the man or his legacy, therefore I will say nothing…and in saying nothing, volumes are said.

    • I have nothing bad to say about the man or his legacy, therefore, I will say nothing…

      • Volumes are said.

        • Greg R. ….the original man.

  • I was one of Cole’s students back in the early 2000’s. Every day Cole would go on a diatribe about George W. Bush and the Republicans. It was like Cole was possessed with hate. I ended dropping his class. It was a 100 level History class and Cole used a system of passive intimidation to get the students to accept his political positions. I never met a more opinionated, intolerant college instructor.

  • I was no fan of Terrence Cole or his brother, Dermot. Both brothers were a couple of left-wing charlatans with egos, and zero practical knowledge.
    I remember many years ago, maybe 20, seeing a documentary on cemetery hauntings. One of the cemeteries featured was Birch Hill in Fairbanks, in which Mr. Cole was the narrating historian. In that documentary film, Cole stated that he was immortal and would never die. So ironic that this little man met his maker sooner than most. What a final lesson for all of his former students, even the ones who worshiped him.

  • May Terrence Cole RIP. Can’t say that I’ll miss his nakedly partisan writings and liberal views though.

    • Ditto to Jeff’s assessment above. Hope Cole finds God and repents for brainwashing all of those young college students at UAF.

  • I have to compliment Suzanne for posting a tribute to Terrence Cole. I did not know the man, but found his writings intriguing. It appears he had few fans in the MRAK readership.
    I do not believe that Terrence’s comment that “Don Young will probably go down in history as the poster boy for COVID-19 ignorance and arrogance…” is particularly cogent. There are so many other statements from the lone congressman from Alaska that could prove highly competitive with that statement.

  • Leave it to the imagination that in today’s Fairbanks Newsminer is yet another example of Dermot Cole’s Leftist agenda. Page A4, the newspaper of which the living Cole brother takes a swipe at Governor Dunleavy for closing down rural DMV offices. Ok, we get it. Dermot wants the Dunleavy Recall to reactivate.
    For the little Coles it was always about ridiculing and trying to humiliate Republicans. Would Dermot be able to write an objective story of how Joe Biden received illegal kickbacks from China and Ukraine through his son’s influence dealings while Biden was VP under Obama? Of course not. It doesn’t fit the Lefty narrative. Never criticize a fellow Democrat regardless of the evidence. Dermot Cole is nothing more than an old Leftist seeking out opportunities to ignite and fuel the fires of ideological hate. His identical twin did the same thing at the UA, masking himself as a professor of History. The hate may be halved, but it still gets into print full force. The Cole brothers really had nothing more to offer to Alaskans.

  • Northern Studies and Rural Development Department is the great Communist experiment and brainwashing labratory at UAF. These students coming out of this department are cloned and unable to think for themselves. This was where Terrence Cole practiced his dark arts. Abolish this shi–y department.

  • Very true!
    A nothingburger degree and diploma which buys you ………nothing. Easiest masters degree curriculum in the entire UA system, maybe the universe. School of NSRD trains students in cancel culture, woke culture, racial bias studies, women’s studies, and anti-Conservative political studies. Students coming out of this department are dumber than they were going in. This was Terrence Cole’s world.

    • Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police, and hardcore Environmental-wackoism too. Commie instructors teaching young people to become Commies. Right here in Alaska.

  • These comments on Terrence Cole really tell a story about he and his twin brother, Dermot. There is nothing special about their writings, either at UAF, or in the local newspaper and in their books. It’s just that the Cole twins held the torch for Left-wingers and those in the Liberal community. They were annointed to present the Left version of politics of the times. And they were held in high esteem by Liberals and Democrats. When you compare their writings with other Alaska journalists, History professors, and Alaska historians, the Coles actually fail to make the mark, and even pale in comparison. The difference is that the Cole twins were strictly political. As long as people understand that particularized feature of the Cole’s, the community didn’t rebel. The Cole’s never tried to hide their hard Leftist hand. Where the Conservative community had a problem was that the local newspaper didn’t have a balancing scale. And the UAF let Terrence work the young student’s mind with his brand of revisionist history and liberal thought. Here, there was overreach. The Cole’s did not, and do not today, speak for the majority view of Alaskans. They truly gave the minority reports, and should be treated with that status.

    • I really doubt that most commenters here actually took a class from Terrence or spent much time with him. He was a pretty good teacher who excelled when challenged. I had no teacher more accepting of me challenging what he taught. The way that he made room for multiple viewpoints (contrary to his) was one of his strengths. At least it was in the late 90’s. And, he was a kind man, well loved by neighbors.

      Say what you want about his political and academic writing, but in person as a teacher and human he was always a class act, both in my experience and by reputation.

      He will be greatly missed.

      We really need to stop demonizing good folks who happen to have a different vision for our political future. Maybe that is criticism that both Terrence and his brother could also have benefited from. But, it has to end sometime.

      • Sorry Dan. I cannot roll with you on this one. Terrence Cole and his twin brother Dermot were not accepting of differing viewpoints. Nor, were they class acts. They fronted the extreme Leftist agenda and were intolerant of opposing viewpoints. They were one-dimensional in their thinking and their rhetoric was totally Leftist propoganda. Even their knowledge of Alaska history was limited to their own particular agenda. The Cole’s didn’t create any history in Alaska. They read the works of others and recreated a revisionist document filled with their own interpretation. In my opinion, they tried to rewrite the true history of hard-working Alaskans. They didn’t live the real Alaska experience. They worked at their typewriters and computer screens in warm offices, creating their own Leftist cult, which is not reality. They castigated, ridiculed, and satarized Conservative thought ……. as well as openly demonized those individuals who carried conservatism. The Cole’s never missed an opportunity to belittle and publicly fan out their hatred of Republicans and conservatism.
        No, Dan. There are legions of true Alaskans that did not agree with, not did they appreciate, what the Cole’s were trying to do:
        That is, brainwashing young minds and turn them towards Socialism, while supporting only Democrats in the community and initiating conflict amongst fellow Alaskans. In MHO, the Cole’s were not nice people and should not be given the blanket respect that Liberals try forcing down everyone’s throat.
        No more lectures needed by the Coles!

        • No one “creates” a history of anything, unless it is the result of how they change the present. All history is looking back at source documents and piecing the many stories together to create a narrative of what has gone before. If this is brainwashing, then is the advocacy of the right, the conservatives who are quick to demonize the opinions of those which differ from their own, not guilty of the same transgression?

  • Greg R.:
    I don’t see Conservatives trying to tear down the statues of Robert E. Lee. Nor, are they trying to undress the Confederate flag. Who wrote the US Constitution? A bunch of old, White men………who were brilliant. Who protects you when you are confronted by thugs? The uniformed police, that is, unless you carry…….then, it’s the 2nd.
    Who are the inventors or discoverors of electricity, the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, quantum physics, gravity, the steam engine, the combine, basketball? Yep, more old White men. What corporations risked drilling oil on a distant, frozen no-where land called Alaska? What were Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher and Pope John Paul II famous for? (hint: Eastern block European countries went mainstream capitalism and East Berlin became just plain old Berlin). These are just a few examples of what the Left does to redefine and revise history. The Cole’s were the local example of how Lefties reinterpret and teach your kids in college…….all the way down to grade school. Extreme partisan politics with little regard to factual events.

%d bloggers like this: