Bud Cole ‘Celebration Of Life’ soars over Blue Mountain
Kestrels circled in lazy patterns in the brilliant sky. A parasailer glided gracefully, looping back and forth. Far below rolled the green expanse of the valley and beyond, the hazy blue outline of the Pocono Mountains.
A long line formed in the lobby of Blue Mountain Resort-Summit Lodge, Lower Towamensing Township, Carbon County. There were hugs, words of condolence and anecdotes as Bev Cole, Bud Cole’s widow, greeted all.
The occasion was a “Celebration Of Life” service for outdoors columnist and educator Bud Cole. On the last day of July, an estimated 250 sought shade at umbrella tables on the Summit Lodge patio. They wore name tags with images of fish (rainbow trout, large mouth bass, etcetera). Reminiscences, chuckles and banter about Bud were shared as they enjoyed a buffet and cold beverages.
Easels displayed dozens of photographs of Bud through the years with family and friends. Bud’s multi-pocket fishing-photo journalist’s vest hung below a reproduction of his last “Bud’s View” outdoors column and an appreciation article from the July 26 and 27 Focus section of Lehigh Valley Press.
The kestrels, the parasailer, and the panoramic view symbolized the free spirit that was Bud Cole, in life and in eternity.
Family, friends, and acquaintances made their way down the path to a wooden trellis where they sat on chairs or stood. Bud’s ashes were in a carved chest, a family heirloom, on a table. Bev plans to scatter Bud’s ashes in places they enjoyed visiting.
The song, “You Raise Me Up,” played to a slide show on a large television screen of photos of Bud, family, friends and his beloved pets. Pastor Curt Kemmerer, a friend of the family, gave the invocation.
Quoting Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, New York City, Kemmerer said, to paraphrase: “We are ultimately each of us stardust. I like to believe Bud Cole knew that, and spread that belief.”
More recordings of songs were played, including “I Hope You Dance” and “Amazing Grace.” Those attending were encouraged to share memories of Bud.
Kemmerer recalled Bud singing along to Elvis Presley songs. He spoke of the humor of Bud, a Northampton Area School District elementary school teacher 1966-1999 (“I’ve been in the fifth grade for 25 years.). He mentioned the Three B’s Mobile Nature Center for youths and nature lovers that Bud and Bev ran in association with Northampton Community College during the summer. He described the backyard of Bud’s and Bev’s Northampton area home as a “nature preserve.” He spoke of Bud being on the Ski Patrol for some 47 years.
“He had that youthful spirit that sees things for the first time,” Kemmerer said of Bud.
Bud Cole was a Whitehall High School graduate, Class of 1962, and received a BS in elementary education from East Stroudsburg University in 1966.
He was co-founder and vice president of the Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association. He was a volunteer for the Walnutport Canal Lock House Museum, Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Wildlands Conservancy and State Theatre of Easton.
Bud received the Northampton County Conservation District Outdoor Educator of the Year award in 1981 and the Helen G. Brown Award from East Stroudsburg University in 2016.
He was a board member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
Bud wrote two children’s novels, “The Mystery Of Little Bear,” and “Bear And Buddy’s Remarkable Adventures,” the latter to be published posthumously.
Kemmerer encouraged “giving thanks to God for Bud’s presence on our journeys. ... And all the ways that Bud has taught us and continues to teach us to treasure life and each other.”
Kemmerer noted that following a July 2015 operation, Bud Cole was in intensive care for seven and one-half months. In that time, his “Bud’s View” columns received another second-place Keystone award in the 2016 Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association contest.
Bud resumed writing his column for Lehigh Valley Press. This time, “Bud’s View” columns received a first-place Keystone award in the 2017 contest.
Bud was again hospitalized. He was unable to receive the award at the statewide Keystones banquet held in Lancaster in May. A Lehigh Valley Press staffer delivered the first-place award to Bev at the Priscilla Payne Hurd Pavilion at St. Luke’s University Hospital, Fountain Hill, where Bud was a patient. Bud died at 6 a.m. July 21 with the Keystone award plaque in his hospital room.
Said Kemmerer of Bud, “He never lost his sense of humor and positive outlook.”
As Bud Cole’s friends recalled fondly, “That was Bud.”
Contributions may be made in Bud Cole’s name to the Wildlands Conservancy and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center care of Schisler Funeral Home, Inc., 2119 Washington Avenue, Northampton, Pa. 18067