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Retired Air Force Chaplain Shares his Love for God and People

Ret. Col. Newton Cole was a Hallmark Award recipient at the 2018 Spirit of HBU Awards, and has been named an honorary HBU alumnus. He established the Linda & Col. Newton Cole Endowed Scholarship for the School Christian of Thought through an outright gift, and has since added to the scholarship fund through gifts of property and a bequest.

Ret. Col. Newton Cole, a US Air Force chaplain for 36 years, has more than a few stories to tell at 90 years old. He enrolled in Texas A&M at age 15 in 1944, and graduated at 18. Sensing a call for ministry on his life, he then went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. At the same time, he was asked to pastor Rock Prairie Baptist Church in College Station.

“I got a knock on my door, and there were two men standing there. One said, ’Are you Mr. Cole? We hear you’re gonna make a preacher. We need a preacher Sunday; could you preach for us?’ I told them I only had one sermon, but I went,” Cole said. “We hit it off quite well, and they said, ’We’d like for you to come back Sunday.’ I didn’t have a second sermon but they said, ’Maybe you can come up with one.’”

That began Cole’s role as a minister at 18. He learned to drive a 1934 Oldsmobile so he could make the trek from Fort Worth to College Station and back each weekend. Then, in 1951, he joined the Air Force and began serving as a chaplain. Throughout his career, he was stationed in 25 different places, including a tour in Vietnam.

Throughout his life, Cole has seen God’s faithfulness, guidance and protection. Like he did in college, he became involved in a part-time pastorate – this time in Tincup, Colorado for about 30 years. Both his first wife, Sue, and his second wife, Linda, are deceased, and he has three children, seven grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

With a desire to help the next generation of pastors and church leaders, he established scholarships at Southwestern and at Baylor University. Living in Houston, Cole was introduced to Houston Baptist University, and was quickly taken with the University’s mission.

“My father was one of nine children. He was the first in his family and the only one to get a college degree. He talked education from the time I was born. I don’t think any of us ever thought of anything else other than getting a higher education,” Cole said. “What I like about HBU is that, not only is it a great institution of learning, it’s a great Christian school.”

Inspired to give, Cole donated a 1576 Geneva Bible to the Dunham Bible Museum and established the Linda & Col. Newton Cole Endowed Scholarship for the School Christian of Thought. Since the scholarship was established, he has added to it far beyond his humble acknowledgement. “I really have taken my faith seriously all my life, and I never had a lot of money, but I’ve been able to sell some property and been able to invest it,” he said. “I count it a real blessing to be able to help the school. I like the diversity, the quality of people they have here and how much they love the school and how much they love the Lord.”

Cole’s investments in students are an ongoing blessing. “I love the really strong Christian emphasis at HBU. I think that’s so badly needed today,” he said.

Visit HBU.edu/Giving to learn more.

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