|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Homer Cole was inducted into PSU's Athletics Hall of Fame

  • Homer Cole has always been a good sport, and in the fall he received an award for it.



    He was inducted into the Pittsburg State University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame as a meritorious achievement legacy inductee.

    • email print
  • Homer Cole has always been a good sport, and in the fall he received an award for it.
    He was inducted into the Pittsburg State University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame as a meritorious achievement legacy inductee.
    The legacy category, created in 2005, focuses solely on individuals who participated in athletics from the school’s first 50 years, from 1903 to 1953.
    “I had both coaches (Kevin Muff and Lane Lord) give me a heck of a talk, and Gene Bicknell talked, then I had to talk,” Cole said.
    At the ceremony he was hailed as a war hero and basketball standout, and the two are linked.
    “I graduated from Pittsburg High School when I was 17 and turned 18 on Sept. 2,” Cole said. “Then I got drafted. I was interested in navigation, but lacked two weeks of being a navigator and went to gunnery school.”
    He was sent to England in January of 1945 and flew 19 missions. On April 10, 1945, his plane was almost shot down over Brandenburg, Germany.
    “I thought the world was going to end,” Cole said. “Flak went through my helmet and just nicked my skull. We were carrying 20 bombs and the flak hit everything but them. We counted 124 holes in that plane.”
    However, the world went on. The B-17 was not pursued by German fighter planes and, flying only 300 feet from the ground, was able to make its way to an emergency landing in Brussels, Belgium.
    After his discharge from the military, Cole returned home and attended Pittsburg State University on the GI Bill.
    He played five years of basketball under legendary coach John Lance from 1946 to 1950, setting a PSU record of 110 career games played. That mark stood for nearly 50 years.
    “Eligibility didn’t count for my first year, so I was able to play five years,” Cole explained.
    He also played baseball, and said that was his favorite sport.
    “I played one semester at Iola while Mickey Mantle was at Independence,” Cole said. “I didn’t play against him, though, because he was only there about a month.”
    It was while he was playing basketball that he married his beloved wife, the late Evelyn Cole. They didn’t get to have much of a honeymoon.
    “Coach Lance said I could have Thursday, which was Thanksgiving, and Friday off, then I’d have to be back on Saturday for practice,” Cole said.
    Mrs. Cole was also an outstanding athlete, and very competitive.
    “She played semi-pro basketball and fast-pitch softball as short stop,” Cole said. “She was also a heck of a bowler. We had a deal that whoever got the highest bowling score would have to wash the dishes, and I sure did get tired of that.”
    Page 2 of 2 - He thought he’d finally won when he bowled a 289 game at a bowling alley the couple operated at Okmulgee, Okla.
    “That was higher than she’d ever gotten,” Cole said. “But she just said, ‘Wait until Saturday,’ and she bowled 299 in her first game on Saturday.  I went out Monday and bought a dishwasher.”
    After her death in September of 2010, donations were accepted for a memorial women’s basketball scholarship at PSU in Mrs. Cole’s honor.
    Cole continues to avidly support PSU athletics and attend sporting events.
    “I don’t miss anything,” he said, noting that he was especially looking forward to the Saturday women’s basketball meeting.
    “I’ve got 13 going to the women’s game,” he said. “This is the first time that  my wife’s scholarship will kick in.”
      • calendar