Tuesday, August 31, 2010
For the past nearly twenty years, I've had the privilege of knowing Mike Cola, now the president of a pharmaceutical company, but mostly, to me, a well-read, inventive, and so brilliant man who has always placed people and family first. Mike wouldn't want me talking about all he does, almost invisibly, for so many. But perhaps, today, he won't mind if I commit this post to the memory of his father, Rudolph Alexander Cola, who passed away on Friday and whose life will be celebrated later today.
The obituary lists just some of Mr. Cola's achievements. He was a man who, in his lifetime, signed a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Athletics, became a decorated veteran during World War II, won new air pollution control regulations as a member of the Philadelphia Air Pollution Control Board, coached both baseball and basketball teams, and, as a physicist, developed 23 working patents responsible for such things as cathode ray tubes and flat-panel plasma displays. He was also a man famous in my own neighborhood for spending nine years developing educational software applications for a young man who'd suffered an early brain injury—developing that software and sitting there, with that young man, making certain that he learned. So much of who Mike is reflects, I suspect, so much of who his dad always was, and I don't think I've ever sat with Mike, in all these years, when Rudy Cola did not in some way factor into whatever it was we were talking about.
So that today my heart is heavy for Mike, heavy for his whole family. But I am also grateful for the many ways that this father lives on in his son.