(BEDFORD) - "I think Terry's first word was 'football.'" These were the words of Carol Cole Hackney in a recent interview about her brother, the late Terry Cole. "It was more than a dream for him; it was a destiny," she said.
The Lawrence County Museum of History celebrates that destiny this month by featuring the Terry Cole collection. The collection, which was donated by the Cole family in Terry's honor, includes many photographs, as well as his letter jacket from Mitchell High School.
Cole was born July 7, 1945 in Mitchell to Thelma "Sammi" Cole. He grew up with three sisters, all of whom are still living - Dorothy "Dottie" Chester of Texas, and Kathryn "Kitty" McClain and Carol Hackney, both of Mitchell.
Cole graduated from MHS in 1964. His football career at Mitchell featured an undefeated season in 1963 and 411 career points with 3,000 yards rushing. In his senior year alone, he scored 186 points in eight games and rushed for 1,339 yards. He was a Scholastic All-American as well as a Football All-American, and was named All-State two years.
"(Growing up), we just knew that Terry was going to play ball," Hackney commented of his many years of play. "It was second-nature for him, like it was something Terry was supposed to do ... it was almost like walking or breathing for him."
His football career continued at Indiana University for four years, where he graduated in 1968. He spent three of those years as a fullback, including starting at fullback in the 1967 Rose Bowl. That same year, in the Old Oaken Bucket game against Purdue, he rushed for 155 yards in just 15 carries, and scored the winning touchdown. The Associated Press named him "Back of the Week," and he later received the Zora Clevenger Award, the highest honor given to a former IU athlete.
He played with the Baltimore Colts in 1968 and 1969, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1968. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970, as well as the Miami Dolphins in 1971 and 1972. In his second season with the Dolphins, the team went undefeated.
In 1986, he founded Cole-Chem Corporation, a diversified specialty chemical company, which his son Toby now runs. (Cole also had one other son, Ben.) Cole-Chem's website states that Terry's "original vision in founding Cole-Chem was to apply the same principles in business that he had learned on the field." These principles are defined by Cole-Chem's motto: "Perfection is the goal. Excellence will be accepted."
Hackney stated that one of the proudest moments of her brother's life was when the MHS football field was renamed Terry Cole Field in September 2000.
"That moment affected him greatly," she said. "Many of his NFL buddies came to see him. You've never seen so many Super Bowl rings in all your life," she laughed. She stated that he was also very honored when he was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame on Oct. 16, 1992.
Cole lost his battle with cancer Nov. 11, 2005. Hackney emphasized that she wants her brother to be remembered for more than just his football career.
"I want people to know him for who he was as a person, too," she said. "He was so personable, and such a warm person."
She described his last days as a time when he had lines of people waiting to see him. "Everyone was telling me that Terry was their best friend. That's just how he was. He was 'Uncle Terry' to all his friends' kids and grandkids," she said.
Hackney remembers his "Elvis Presley" smile. She reminisced about a time when she and Terry were young and their mother wanted a picture of them together, so she asked Terry to give Hackney a kiss.
"He told our mother, 'You're not supposed to kiss your sister!,'" Hackney laughed. He eventually gave her a kiss. Years later, at his Hall of Fame induction, Hackney got a picture with him giving her a kiss. "He wasn't too embarrassed to give me a kiss in front of everyone that night!"
The article is by 21-year-old Rebecca Bayens, a museum volunteer. Information for this article was obtained from museum records, an interview with Carol Hackney, and www.colechem.us.
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