Cole, James M.

Died: November 20, 2001

Harry Matthews

Jim Cole and I became friends not only because we shared interests — language, literature, and theatre among them — but also because we shared an offbeat sense of humor. There was no academic assignment, no news event, no social encounter that could not produce a satirical re-interpretation and mutually shared laughter. We also shared a great appreciation for the unique opportunity that Williams offered us: to explore so many fields of human enquiry with such a varied array of fascinating mentors. Though Jim was not especially active in alumni affairs, he was a regular supporter of the Alumni Fund, he visited the campus from time to time, and he would eagerly sing the praises of the College to anyone who asked.

We both left Williams with plans for academic careers, but we had both turned from that path by the mid-70s. While I wandered into book publishing, Jim entered the corporate world, finding much success in employee motivation and management training. By the time of our 25th reunion, he was in charge of all training activities at Bankers Trust Company, then one of the country’s largest banks. A few years later, Bankers Trust chose to focus exclusively on investment banking, dramatically shrinking its staff and closing the in-house training operation. Jim seized this opportunity to set himself up as an independent consultant, with the freedom to devote more time to projects he found especially rewarding and the free time to enjoy reading and traveling — favorite pastimes he shared with his wife Debbie, whom he had first met on a road trip to Vassar.

In recent years, our paths crossed less frequently, but our traditional rapport never faded: no conversation could last more than five minutes without leading to laughter. In this very dark season, his flashes of wit will be sorely missed.


James M. Cole, 56, died November 20, 2001 at Morristown Memorial Hospital

SCOTCH PLAINS NJ — A management consultant, Jim Cole was the owner of James M. Cole Traininng/Consulting, specializing in management, leadership and organizational development programs for numerous major corprtations. Previously, he had been Vice President and Senior Training Manager at Bankers Trust Company in New York, where he co-authored three behavioral simulations, recreating the complex challeges executives face in teambuilding. He was responsible for delivering these and other training programs to senior and mid-level managers in the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

He served on the board of the Financial Services forum of the American Society for Training and Development and delievered presentations to three national ASTD conferences as well as to the Management Development Forum in New York, the National Society of Bank Women and the Society for Human Resources Management.

A native of Upper Monclair, NJ, Mr. Cole lived in New York City before moving to Westfield in 1983 and Scotch Plains in 1994. He was a graduate of Williams College and held a master’s degree in English Literature from Rutgers Univesity.

At Williams College he was a member of Gargoyle, Secretary of Berkshire House, wrote theater and film reviews for the Record and helped bring free movies to campus.

Surviving are his wife, Deborah Langer Cole, his mother, Helen M. Cole of Newtown, PA; and a brother, G. Alexander Cole of Drexel Hill, PA. He was predeceased by his father, Robert A. Cole. Services were held November 23rd.

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