By Juanitia Floyd
The Bible describes King David as a “man after God’s own heart.” It further describes King David as a king who was able “to walk in and out among the people.”
Last month, I was blessed to attend a retirement gala honoring Dr. David Cole for his service to Itawamba Community College. Those who roasted him told amazing stories. I thought, “If I were honoring Dr. Cole – what would I say?” Comparative thoughts about King David surfaced regarding my friend, Dr. Cole.
My professional and personal relationship with Dr. Cole began many years ago through CREATE. We became the fiscal agent for the Advanced Education Center project which he helped spearhead. Giving him updates about the project on a weekly basis, Dr. Cole and I talked for nearly a year. During that time, he would always take time to inquire about my three children. I was so impressed and honored that the president of ICC bestowed that common courtesy to me.
My children grew up. My oldest son, Tyler, was selected as a page in Jackson for Sen. Nicky Browning of Pontotoc. Cole was in Jackson at the same time. I asked him to look for Tyler during the session. Tyler was there almost a week when the session abruptly ended. I received a phone call from Dr. Cole saying, “I have Tyler with me – I am taking him by his cousin’s house to get his clothes (Tyler was staying with our cousin, Roderick Cobb. Roderick gave Dr. Cole directions to his home. Dr. Cole had to wait about 30 minutes for Rod to arrive from work). I will deliver him to your office. There is no need of you coming to Jackson to pick Tyler up when I am on my way back to Fulton.” Wow! In that one moment, as a parent, Dr. Cole endeared himself to me for life. Roderick called and said, “Can you believe Dr. Cole, the president of ICC, is doing this?” Tyler told me there was never a dull moment during that exhilarating ride home with Dr. Cole!
Tyler graduated and enrolled at ICC. I wish I could write words that would somehow convey the depth of my gratitude to Dr. Cole for helping Tyler, through ICC, to become a productive citizen of our great state. My next son, Taylor graduated and is currently enrolled at ICC. When Dr. Cole would see Taylor on campus, he didn’t hesitate to introduce Taylor to whomever he was with. In fact, Hassell Franklin, CEO of Franklin Corporation, said to me, “Juanita, I met your son on campus. David introduced me to him. He is a fine young man.” Taylor loves football and practiced with the team. After the football season ended, Taylor went to Dr. Cole’s office and asked Mrs. Judy Alford if he could meet with Cole. Dr. Cole had made Taylor feel special and important – so he didn’t hesitate to ask for a meeting with the president.
Not only has Cole assisted my children, but over the years, I can personally attest to his helping so many other students with their careers.
I began this column by describing Cole as a man similar to King David. Ironically, they have the same name. Like King David, Cole walks in the presence of great and mighty men and women – CEOs, the wealthy, business owners, colleagues of other universities and colleges; yet, like King David, he is able to walk in the presence of the common man – like me.
Rudyard Kipling said, “If you can talk with crowds…or walk with Kings … and not lose the common touch…” I truly admire Dr. Cole for “walking in and out” among people of all backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic statuses.
Regardless of the position you hold in life, are you able to “walk with kings” and still interact with the common man? You be the judge.
JUANITA GAMBRELL FLOYD is vice president for finance and administration at CREATE Foundation. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.