Henry P. Cole Jr.
1937 - 2020
Henry P. Cole, Jr. passed away in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Oct. 14, 2020, of COVID-19. He had just celebrated his 83rd birthday.

Henry Cole was a rare gem; he lived a full and multifaceted life as an academic, outdoorsman, scientist, hockey player, teacher, singer and beloved partner and friend. Henry was born in New York City on Sept. 21, 1937, to Henry P. Cole and Katherine Bullock Cole. He attended Buckley School in New York City and then St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He graduated from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1959, with a BS in physics, and earned his Master's in physics from Michigan State University in 1963. Henry moved to Alaska in 1969 and completed his doctorate in upper atmospheric physics in 1977 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

From his early childhood, Henry's family spent summers at their rural home on the Common in Royalston, Massachusetts, not far from Mount Monadnock, where he fell in love with woods, streams, waterfalls and mountains. During the early 1960s, Henry began mountain climbing and hiking, spending summers bushwhacking throughout Colorado, the Tetons, Sierra Nevada and Canadian Rockies. After coming to Alaska, he added the Chilkoot Trail, the Wrangle Mountains, areas of Rainbow Mountain, McCarthy and the Castner Glacier; and years of hiking, skiing and snowshoeing right outside his front door, down into Smallwood Valley. He participated in the Tanana River Raft Races; rafted the Yukon, and canoed the Chena, Tanana and Delta rivers, among others.

He recited beautiful, moving poems around campfires, on the rivers and trails, and at many other gatherings; and entertained with singing and guitar at his joyful and memorable September equinox potlucks. Henry was a singer from the time he was a soprano until the end of his life as a baritone. During the 60s he performed in summer stock Broadway musical theater up and down the New England coast and was a member of The Blue Hill Troupe in NYC, a Gilbert & Sullivan group. In Fairbanks, he helped found Fairbanks Light Opera Theater and performed in many of their productions. He performed in the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festivals in choruses, cabaret and opera workshops, and sang regularly in the University Community Chorus and the annual Fairbanks Sing it Yourself Messiah.

In the mid-60s, Henry became fascinated with photosynthesis and enrolled in Columbia University taking graduate courses in biology and marine geology. This led to work as an oceanographer for Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory aboard the RV Conrad, doing biological and acoustics research throughout world oceans. One voyage, to Africa, enabled him several days of trekking on Mount Kilimanjaro. He loved this work; but by 1968, Kipling's Red Gods of the mountains and rivers were calling him out, and he had to go.

Henry moved to Fairbanks in 1969 and enrolled as a doctoral student at the Geophysical Institute. While pursuing his Ph.D., Henry took on a variety of projects and jobs. He built his log cabin on a hill at the top of an impossible road. This became a lifelong endeavor, believing that if "house finished, life over." He played hockey with the UAF Nanooks, and then on the Old-timers Leagues well into the 2000s. He taught classes in celestial navigation and meteorology while working as a research assistant at the Geophysical Institute and worked on the trans-Alaska pipeline at the Yukon River pump station. After completing his Ph.D., Henry worked at Poker Flat Rocket Range in Fairbanks and then accepted a post-doctoral position as a consultant in atmospheric chemistry at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

After his post-doc, Henry returned to Fairbanks to continue teaching in mathematics and physics, as well as creating public policy courses in science, technology, development and risk. He also worked as a building contractor; his company was called BTF Construction, which stood for Beat to Fit.

Henry had an enormously wonderful sense of humor. In 1986, Henry was appointed science adviser to Gov. Steve Cowper in Juneau where he earned the affectionate title of Dr. Science from his colleagues. He assisted with the establishment of the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation; worked on sustainable energy, global climate change and rare earth issues; and helped initiate commercial rocketry in Alaska. In 1991, Henry returned to teaching in Fairbanks and also volunteered tutoring for GED students. In additional to having his own consulting company, Henry completed a course and certification through MIT in Systems Dynamics and gave talks, seminars and taught courses in societal problem solving using modeling methods of this program.

Henry Cole - a true Renaissance man - lived a rich, ethical and purposeful life, always involved in the things he felt to be of deep importance: science, poetry, mathematics, athletics, education and music. His friendships were life long, and he never lost his commitment to learning or to teaching. Henry was a patient, respectful, kind-hearted man. He never had an ill word for anyone. Henry's dear friend from the 60s, Fred Jolly, expressed Henry's loss so eloquently: "We explored the wilderness and climbed the heights together. We conducted oceanographic research together while at Columbia U. And in every context he displayed competence, humor, fortitude, ambition, and a striving for excellence. We both know the joy of having a companion of Henry's caliber - a rare privilege few ever know. Instead of grief, I must choose gratitude."

Henry was predeceased by his parents and sister, Alice Cole Jones of New York, and cousin, Jane Cole Graves of Texas, and many aunts, uncles and cousins throughout the US. Henry is survived by his partner of 33 years, Susan Logue of Fairbanks; cousins, Fleur Weymouth of New Hampshire; Fair Alice McCormick, Bunny Bullock and Richard Bullock of Massachusetts; Helen Graves of New York City; Sally Graves Jackson, California; numerous nephews and nieces, and a great many friends.

Henry requested to be laid to rest in Royalston, Massachusetts. If desired, gifts to organizations that serve Henry's interests would be fitting and appreciated. A memorial service will hopefully be held this summer or fall. Memories and stories to share with Henry's family are most welcome.

Published by Daily News-Miner on Feb. 28, 2021.
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14 Entries
Henry was a delightful human. I first met him in the 80s through Steve Cowper. We had contact during Cowper’s Governor work and remained Fairbanks friends. When we would run into each other we had lots to catch up on, sometimes several years to catch up on. I last saw him at the Pioneers Home on a regular basis visiting my friend Meg Greene. We had a private, lengthy conversation and I gave him my legal opinion that he was not going to get his car or drivers license back! He was so interesting to be with. He contributed much to our community and our state. I will miss you Henry. Niesje Steinkruger
Niesje Steinkruger
March 15, 2021
Being born and raised in Royalston, Massachusetts, I, like all from there, know of the Bullocks and the Coles. How astounded our family was to read that a Cole lived so close to us here in Alaska and we never knew it. Having read of his passing in the Royalston newsletter the library sends out, we spoke of our sadness of never having met him. My mother, who never moved from Royalston will be pleased to read this interesting and honoring obituary from the Daily News- Miner. He certainly sounded like a brilliant, gifted man.
With prayers for your family,
The Szklarz Family
The Szklarz Family
March 11, 2021
Henry Cole was indeed a Renaissance man. What a beautifully written story of his remarkable life. I was always grateful for his participation in the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. He gave so much to so many of us.

Jo Ryman Scot
Jo Ryman Scott
March 6, 2021
Great friend and revered Doctor Science. Sail on Henry, you get to explore first

the next phase of the great mystery that we are all on. As you voyage on I echo what your father said to you.
‘You do the lifting Henry, and I’ll do the grunting!
I know when we meet Henry you’ll be warbling an aria, or quoting at length from the Iliad. We all love you, Ronan Short and Family
Ronan Short
March 1, 2021
Henry, thank you for your love and fun during all the adventures with me and my best friend Merritt. Hiking, singing, dancing, BBQ-ing at 9 Mile, on the rivers, Aida at the NY Metropolitan Opera . . . and trying to find the rented BLM cabins in the dark and cold! You were a dear and I miss you. Hugs to your dear Susan.
April Crosby
March 1, 2021
Henry, I remember skating & playing hockey (1970) with you at UA. We hit it off well, in part, because we both came from the Norteast. More importantly, I enjoyed your jokes, and you being you. Keep your head up, old friend.
Rich Tarkiainen
March 1, 2021
Henry and I shared a name, and occasionally mail, but I was happy to know Big Henry beyond that coincidence. He was a good person and a curious and creative soul, and the world is a smaller place without him. Rest in peace.
Henry Cole
February 28, 2021
I first meet Henry as a Junior in High School. This was in the late 1969’s. Henry was a science teacher and I liked him. I talked with Henry over the following decades and always knew I would learn something, make myself better, when talking with him. Now, more than 50 years later, it seems too soon for Henry to be gone. I will miss him! He was a great teacher and wanted to make the world a smarter, better place for all of us, and generations following, to live in! So, a half century ago we met and now I say good bye.
Joe paskvan
February 28, 2021
Henry was a great friend of my fathers and our family and was always a pure joy to be around. He had a great sense of humor and could get along with anyone. His laugh was one for the ages. He was so gracious when speaking at my fathers funeral when none of us could find the strength. Fairbanks has lost a great one. My trips will be a little less fun to look forward to knowing that I won’t be running into him. Thanks for being such a great man Henry. You will not be forgotten. RIP my friend, until we meet again. Ray Atwood
Ray Atwood
February 28, 2021
What a soulful and moving tribute to Henry... I have such fond memories of short conversations with Henry carrying such weight and depth. And while I was closest to his dear, long-time partner Susan, when I would visit, Henry was naturally inclusive; listening with intent to my thoughts and ideas. Henry was brilliant, yet filled with humility, and he also made me laugh out loud at the unexpected. I remember laughter- a lot of laughter when I visited...
I so loved hearing about Susan's love for Henry, their love, and mutual respect for one another. Grateful to have known Henry. My heart hurts for Susan and his family's loss.
February 28, 2021
I was one of the very lucky graduate students who Henry befriended. I arrived to his systems dynamics class with the audacity many weeks in to suggest a teaching improvement. Instead of acknowledging then dismissing the idea he welcomed it and we further developed it. In the process Henry generously opened his vulnerable self to a stranger and made him a friend. I had no idea how well versed, traveled, educated and philanthropic Henry was, all hidden by his modesty so we could connect equally. He was a remarkable soul. I miss his big voice and very sharp mind. Rory
Rory O'Neill
February 28, 2021
Always enjoyed chatting with Henry when he stopped in the Star of the North and working with him at Pump Station 6. He was a friend to everyone and an important part of the fabric of Fairbanks.
Mike Prax
February 28, 2021
My condolences to the family . May you find comfort in your treasured memories
and Gods promise to return our loved ones . 1st Thessalonians 4 : 13 & 14 .
February 28, 2021
Henry, you added curiosity and depth to every discussion. Your influence was felt across Alaska and beyond. Rest In Peace and continuing curiosity.
Jim Whitaker
February 28, 2021
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