The Christian Register
William Roswell Cole
Rev. William Roswell Cole died suddenly in Cohasset, Mass, August 21, in the fifty-fifth year of his life, the twenty, third year of his ministry in the historic First Parish and town of Cohasset. Mr. Cole was born In Baltimore, Md. the son of William R. and Maria E.(Muncks) Cole, February 14, 1865. His grandfather William Parker Cole, a native of Watertown, Mass. had been one of the founders of the Baltimore Unitarian Society. Here under the quickening ministry of Dr. Charles R- Weld, the boy grew to manhood In the simple beautiful faith to the later ministry of which the discerning preacher led this fine spirit, as to the natural life-employment of his best talents.
Educated at Loyola College Marsden’s School, and John Hopkins University (from which he was graduated in 1887). Mr. Cole at once entered the Harvard Divinity School, receiving the S.T.B. degree in 1890. Dr. Everett’s teaching and friendship, especially, left an indelible impression on the young ministers’s heart and thought.
In 1891 Mr. Cole succeeded Rev. George L. Chaney as minister of the young Unitarian society in Atlanta, Ga. Here he collaborated with Mr. Chaney in the publication of the bright little Southern Unitarian during the three years of its existence.
On July 18, 1895, at Atlanta, he married Leonore, daughter of the late Theodor and Edwine Schumann of Atlanta, and that year resigned his pastorate in Atlanta. Mrs. Cole, who with a daughter and two sons survives him, has been a faithful and enthusiastic coworker with her husband in all his labors.
In 1896 Mr. Cole came to Cohasset, as associate pastor with Joseph Osgood, D.D. In 1898 “Father” Osgood died, after a pastorate of fifty-four years. full of honor and good works. From that year until his sudden death, Mr, Cole has given his productive energy wholly to the church and town, each passing year deepening his hold and widening the scope of his labors. He has been continuously a trustee of the Derby Academy in Hingham end of the Public Library in Cohasset. He was active in the Cohasset Improvement Association, the No-License League, etc., and a chief mover in the formation of the successful Cohasset Men’s Club. As secretary of the Plymouth and Bay Conference for sixteen years (being vice. president during the last few years) his was the duty of maintaining the practical well-being of the Conference. Thanks to him the meetings have been largely helpful and inspiring, year after year. With thoroughgoing patriotism, though deeply opposed to the Idea of war, he has done his best to serve his country during the war. He enlisted early in the State Guard, and worked unceasingly as treasurer of the local Red Cross, and in other ways, to aid our cause.
Unswerving fidelity to what is true and right was his sterling quality. He was gentle, even diffident, given to self-disparagement because of the fineness of his idealism. He was not reticent in his stand for honor, fair play, justice. He did not trick himself, having the clear sight of perfect honesty; but others often failed to understand, who knew not the intensive fruitfulness of his ministry, how strong a direct influence he was in the lives of men, of women, above all, of young people, for all things, good and clean and sweet and high. His was a placid tenacity of earnest affection, which followed through. His friendships were genuine never retracted. To the friend, to the needy, the weak, he was ready to give all, at any time. He did not compromise. Yet, so unpretentious was he, that many were astonished on summing the account after he was gone.
Things beautiful he loved – good reading, flowers, birds, trees. His “bird walks” were delightful to the friends who went with him. A talent for painting he took time to practice in the last few years with marked success. Golf he enjoyed greatly, both the contest of the game and tramping the long green course.
In all, he was a very loyal gentleman, with much of that spiritual gentleness which is strength and healing. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings that publisheth peace.”