D. C. Cole
Author’s note: While in some sense Cole was not a regular member of the Cliffside High faculty, his connection with the school was very long-lasting—indeed, from 1922 to 1959, and longer than any other individual. His connection with Cliffside was even longer.
Dee Christopher Cole was born November 29, 1890 about three miles north of Forest City. His parents were Thomas L. and Alpha (Grose) Cole. Alpha Cole’s father was a confederate veteran. Although raised on the farm, he eventually went to Cliffside where he was employed. In 1907 (or 1908, sources disagree) he joined the Cliffside Renown Band. While in Cliffside he decided to attend Boiling Springs High School, from which he graduated in 1914, receiving a diploma from both the academic and the music departments. Also in 1914 Cole organized and taught the Boiling Springs High School Band—believed to be the first high school band in western NC.
Cole then taught piano for two years and in 1916 became the lead director of the Cliffside Renown Band. On October 5, 1917 he entered the army as a member of Co. B, 317th Machine Gun Battalion. After a couple of transfers he was assigned to Co. H, 117th Infantry, 30th Division. He was able to study music in the army under Colonel Ira R. Summers, ranking band leader of the 30th Division. Cole served overseas for a year with the 117th Infantry Band. He returned to the states on March 27, 1919 and was discharged April 17 of that year.
On May 7, 1921, Mr. Cole married Miss Faye Best, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Best of Clyde, NC. They had three sons, Roger D., Denny, John Owen, and two daughters, Margaret and Helen. All their children became students and practitioners of music.
From 1919 through 1923 Mr. Cole was in Cliffside where he reorganized the Cliffside band as the Haynes Band and served as its director. In 1921 he organized a band in Avondale. In 1922 a “Made in Carolinas Exposition” was held in Charlotte where manufactured products of every description were exhibited, and for one day of the exposition, the Haynes Band furnished music. In this same year the band also participated in a contest for the four best bands in the Carolinas. The Haynes Band managed to win fourth place and, we are told, was just barely beaten out for third.
In 1923 Cole, in partnership with J. H. Hill, organized the Spindale Furniture Company. But he was unable to divorce himself from music; in that same year he organized the Spindale Band. He did remain with the furniture company for several years but soon returned to devoting all his time to music. In 1927 Cole had one of the best jazz orchestras in western NC, known as the Blue Ridge Serenaders.
D. C. Cole led the first high school band in Rutherford County. This first school band was organized in 1933 (or 1932, again sources differ) under the direction of Capt. B. G. Sutton of Elkhorn, WI. Sutton came to Forest City and sold instruments to students on a “guarantee to play plan.” Sixty students took part at Forest City and at the same time a band of fifty students was formed at Central High under the same plan. D. C. Cole was employed by Mr. Sutton, with the approval of the county school system. Ultimately Cole organized, and taught, bands at Cool Springs in Forest City, Rutherford-Spindale Central, Tri-High, Harris High School, Cliffside High, Hendersonville, Newton, and Greer, SC. In 1934 he studied briefly at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, where he played in the Conservatory Orchestra.
Cole established the Cliffside High School band in 1940, using the discarded instruments of the old mill band. By 1941 Cole was serving as traveling band director for all the county high schools, and in 1941 he initiated the Rutherford All-County High School Bands annual banquet and concert. Mr. Cole continued to organize and lead the yearly event until his retirement in 1959. When his retirement was announced, an editorial writer asserted that “having an all-county band without D. C. Cole would be like having…a body with no heart.”
After he retired Cole occasionally appeared as guest conductor of the East Rutherford High School Cavalier Band. He was a member of the North Carolina Bandmasters Association, the Masons, and the American Legion—indeed he served for a time as vice commander of Cliffside’s first American Legion Post, which was formed after WWI. For many years he was a Steward of the Pleasant Grove Methodist Church, and the church’s choir director. In the 1930’s Cole was elected vice president of the North Carolina Textile Band Association. In 1948 he won the Kiwanis Citizenship and Achievement Cup awarded by the Forest City Kiwanis, and in 1950 a song written by Cole and his wife was chosen as the “State Theme Song” for the State Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs. .
D. C. Cole died in the Oteen Veterans Hospital on October 16, 1974. In 2003 he was inducted into the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Association Hall of Fame. The criterion for induction into the Hall of Fame requires that the band director have left a lasting impression, not only on the students taught, but also on the state and bands as a whole.
D. C. Cole, Cliffside’s Music Man
Induction into a hall of fame
Two Country Music legends are honored
By Jean Gordon
Daily Courier Staff Writer
November 14, 2003
FOREST CITY — Two men who brought notice to Rutherford County and the Southeast and changed the course of high school band music were inducted into the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Association Hall of Fame this week in Winston-Salem.
The late D. C. Cole and the late W. W. Jacobus were among nine band directors recognized during the State Conference of the N.C. Music Educator’s Association.
Members of both families attended the induction ceremonies.
Neil Underwood, president of the N.C. Bandmaster’s Association, said the criteria for being inducted into the Hall of Fame is that the band director left a lasting impression, not only on the students they taught, but also on the state and the community of bands as a whole. Of those honored this year, six are deceased.
This marked only the second year the NCBA has inducted members into the Hall of Fame.
Underwood, a native of Forest City, is the band director at North Lincoln High School and was a student of Jacobus when he attended East Rutherford High School.
“I nominated both Jacobus and D. C. Cole. I felt like they were well deserving and it was gratifying to see at the conference, how many people were affected by these two gentleman, “Underwood said.”
“He is the reason I got in this career. Being in the band program at East Rutherford definitely sparked my interest. Working with him and seeing how much passion he put into his job, definitely motivated me,” Underwood said of Jacobus.
Underwood said at least 13 high school band directors from across the state who attended the conference during the weekend, had been taught by Jacobus, either directly or indirectly.
“Jacobus and D. C. Cole were the reason they had gotten into band directing. They all felt as they are descendants of D.C. Cole,” Underwood said.
Among direct descendants of D.C. Cole and also a student of Jacobus — Christopher Cole — accepted the recognition on behalf of his grandfather.
From Kings Mountain High School where Chris Cole has been band director for 27 years, he reflected on his grandfather’s life and on Jacobus and their contribution to music in Rutherford County.
D. C. Cole, who was born in 1890 and died in 1974, “was instrumental in pioneering the band movement in Rutherford County as well as surrounding areas,” Cole said.
D. C. Cole. joined the Cliffside Community Band in 1907 and graduated from Boiling Springs High School in 1914. He became the lead band director of the Cliffside Band in 1916.
Cole then had a two-year stint in the Army during World War I where he was a member of the 117th Infantry Army Band.
After his discharge from the Army, Cole returned to Rutherford County to reorganize the Cliifside Band. Subsequently he organized bands in Avondale in 1921 and Spindale in 1923, serving as director of all three bands.
During the 1930s, Cole attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, majoring in violin. In 1932, he organized and taught school bands at Cool Springs, Forest City, R-S Central High School, Tri-High, Harris, Ciiffside, Hendersonville, Newton and Greer, S. C.
Cole also organized the 24-piece Rutherford County School Orchestra as well as organizing the first ever All County Band.
“To have my grandfather, D. C., as well as my former East Rutherford High School director, W. W. Jacobus, inducted on the same program was very emotional,” Chris Cole said. Both gentlemen taught me so much and had a tremendous influence on my musical career.
“I feel very honored to have had them as teachers and know they are great choices for the Hall of Fame,” he added.
In addition to Chris Cole and his wife, other family members attending were, D. C. Cole’s son Roger of Forest City and his daughters, Margaret McGinnis of Kings Mountain and Helen Cole Krause of Forest City. McGinnis’s son, Greg, and Jane Krause Hill of Forest City, also attended.
Hill was a member of the East Rutherford High School Band when Jacobus was director. She is the chorus director at East Rutherford and Forest City Elementary.
In 1971, Jacobus hosted a musical tribute to Cole who had earned the reputation as Mr. Music Man of Rutherford County. At that program, Cole was asked to lead several of the band numbers.
The East Rutherford High School Band was the honor guard at Cole’s funeral a few years later.
Rita Jacobus Whittemore of Bostic accepted the Hall of Fame induction honor on behalf of her father, W. W. Jacobus.
“It was a very humbling experience to accept this honor on behalf of our family,” she said. “It was very emotional.”
Jacobus was the band director at East Rutherford High School for a decade from 1966-1976. He and his family came to Rutherford County from Georgetown, S. C. where he had served as band director at several South Carolina schools. At Loris High School, where he was band director, the band honors a student each year with a W.W. Jacobus Award.
Jacobus was the first person to begin a color guard team in the south.
While at East Rutherford, Jacobus led the East Rutherford High Cavalier Band to two National Championships and on a trip to the World Music Festival in Europe, the band placed third in the world.
The band also competed in Canada and Mexico. He also formed the East Rutherford Cavalier Band.
Jacobus was remembered by one former East student, Tony Beam, as being the “Bear Bryant and the Vince Lombardi of our lives.”
After his career at East, Jacobus conducted band clinics throughout the Southeast until his death in March 1986.
The medals and trophies won by the Cavalier Band are on display at East Rutherford High School.
Kathy Weir, another band student of Mr. Jacobus who attended the convention, is the band director at East Rutherford High School today.
Also attending the ceremony was Jacobus’ widow Vernie Jacobus of Forest City; son-in-law Mike Whittemore, grandchildren, Kacey, Amanda and Christopher and great-granddaughter, Gracie; a niece and a sister-in-law of Mr. Jacobus. His other daughter, Jennifer Easler and her family, were not able to attend. Mike Whittemore, also a student of Jacobus, has a career in high school and middle school band programs.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright The Daily Courier
Mr. Music Man, D.C. Cole, dies;
services are set
October 16, 1974
Dee Christopher Cole, 84, of 101 Cole Street, Forest City, died in Oteen Veterans Hospital Tuesday after an extended illness.
He was a World War I veteran, a native of Rutherford County, a member of the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.
He was commonly regarded as the father of the school bands of Rutherford County, with a career spanning 45 years of organizing and leading bands.
He joined the Cliffside band in 1907, at age 17, and nine years later became that band’s director.
After the war he took over at Boiling Springs, reorganized the Cliffside band in 1920, and later organized the Blue Ridge Serenaders. In 1923 he moved to Forest City, organized the Spindale Band, and then went on to Tri-High, Caroleen, Harris, Hendersonville, Newton, and Greer, S. C., organizing and conducting bands.
His efforts created a furor in Forest City when the Taxpayers League objected to spending money for bands, but a court case settled it in Cole’s favor and he has been a leading figure in the musical education of local students ever since, until his retirement in 1959, and even after that made several appearances as a guest conductor with the East High Cavalier Band, as well as continuing work as a church choir director.
He was son of the late Thomas and Alpha Grose Cole.
He is survived by his wife, Faye Best Cole; three sons, Roger D. Cole of Forest City, Denny Cole of Bostic, and John Owen Cole of Annapolis, Md.; two daughters, Mrs. Margaret McGinnis of Kings Mountain, Mrs. Helen Krause of Union Mills.
Services will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church. Rev. Lee Ellis will officiate. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
The family will receive friends tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Padgett-King Funeral Home. The body will be placed in the church 30 minutes prior to the service Thursday.
In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made to Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright The Daily Courier.
Clippings courtesy Joyce A. Hunter.