Former bands students proposing D.C. Cole memorial
A group of former band students, friends and supporters of the late D.C. Cole are spearheading a project to honor Cole who was known as “Mr. Music Man” in Rutherford County.
The group plans to raise approximately $20,000 for the construction of a bandstand/gazebo and memorial plaque to be placed on the east lawn of Cool Springs Administrative Offices on West Main Street in Forest City.
The Rutherford County Board of Education recently approved the placement of the memorial on the office grounds. Cole was band director at Cool Springs High School.
“He was just such a great teacher of music and loved his work so much,” said former band member Bill Blair. “He was a tremendous person when it came to music and he wanted all students to certainly have a chance to play an instrument.”
Cole started five bands in Rutherford County and two or three in South Carolina, Blair said.
Once the gazebo is constructed there will be a formal dedication ceremony with members of Cole’s family, former band members and community supporters.
Cole was born in 1890 and was instrumental in pioneering the band movements in Rutherford County and in other areas.
He joined the Cliffside Community Band in 1907 and graduated from Boiling Springs High School in 1914 and became lead band director of the band in 1916.
After being discharged from the U.S. Army after a stint in World War I, Cole returned to Rutherford County and reorganized the Cliffside band and subsequent bands in Avondale and Spindale.
He organized the 24-piece Rutherford County School Orchestra and the first ever All-County Band.
Cole organized and taught schools bands at Cool Springs, Forest City, R-S Central, Tri-High, Harris, Cliffside, Hendersonville, Newton and in Greer, S.C.
The gazebo will be a permanent marker for Cole that can be used for community events, such as Easter sunrise service, July 4 picnics, Labor Day, Memorial Day, choral concerns.
According to his family and supporters, Cole introduced music and the ability to participate in making music to literally tens of thousands of school age students in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. He accomplished this by starting more than a dozen high school marching bands in the 1920s and 1930s.
He had no assistance and taught every instrument from the oboe to bassoon, from trumpet to trombone and from snare drum to tympani, said one former student.
Cole was known for encouraging students to try harder if they made a mistakes and to believe in themselves.
Cole died in 1974.
In 2003, Cole was inducted into the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Association Hall of Fame in Winston-Salem.