Cole was instrumental in the development of the Northside Education Foundation and served as an elected member of the NISD Board of Trustees for four years. In these roles, he was able to make decisions that put students first and helped prepare them to succeed in college and careers.
He once again exploring new frontiers as namesake of Bennie L. Cole Elementary School.
Cole was born in 1942 in Brenham, Texas, the fourth of five children of L.C. and Mae Ella Cole, a minister and a homemaker. He attended public schools and graduated in 1961 from Pickard High School, the first high school in Texas for black students. Cole excelled in football and was named all-state in baseball. He earned a football scholarship to Colorado College but repeated injuries ended his playing days.
He served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years, retiring as a master sergeant, with more than 4,000 hours logged as an aircrew member. He also spent 20 years as a management consultant in civil service.
Cole understood the importance of parental involvement in a child's education. His commitment to education and to Northside ISD began when his son attended Adams Hill Elementary School, then later Pease Middle School and Jay High School. He became involved at the campus level before being asked to serve at the District level.
In 1995, Cole became a founding member of the Northside Education Foundation (NEF) and later served as NEF President from 2000-2003. The Foundation provides enrichment opportunities for students and staff by funding innovative educational programs.
Cole served as one of the chairmen of the 1995 Citizens' Bond Committee and later as a member of the Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee. He was also a mentor at Rayburn Middle School, mentoring the same student from middle school through college.
Cole knew he could have an even greater impact in Northside as a member of the Board of Trustees. He was elected in 2011, and during his four year tenure, said serving as Board Secretary was a highlight.
Cole's community service also extended to the San Antonio community where he had been a member of the San Antonio Zulu Association and Tuskegee Airman, Inc. Among his numerous awards were the Air Force Civilian Medal of Valor for Heroism, CPS Energy "Amazing Energy" Award, and Brenham ISD Distinguished Alumni Award. He was also part of the Air Force Academy and Ent Air Force Base Hall of Fame as a fastpitch softball player. The Northside Council of PTAs awarded Cole a Texas Life Membership in 2002.
Cole had one son, Bennie, and three grandchildren, Marcus, Eliya, and Royal. He and his wife Edithe were married more than 30 years. Cole passed away Friday, April 26, 2019.