Dr. Cole remembered

Dr. Theodore “Ted” Cole is being remembered for his decades of work in rehabilitation and spinal cord injury, his pioneering […]

Dr. Theodore “Ted” Cole is being remembered for his decades of work in rehabilitation and spinal cord injury, his pioneering medical work and his compassion and commitment to others. Cole died peacefully March 26 at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, surrounded in his final days by his wife, Sandra and their five children. He was a pioneer in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, an advocate for individuals and families faced with disability, a supporter of community arts, a talented musician, photographer, and writer, and a beloved friend, uncle, brother, father and husband.

Cole was Professor Emeritus and former Chairman of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor. He taught at the University of Minnesota in the past. A Minnesota memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday, May 22, 2011, at the Program in Human Sexuality, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 180, Minneapolis. Anyone with questions may contact Jenae Batt at 612-625-1331 or jenae@umn.edu

Memorial Gifts in honor of Dr. Cole may be made to Access Press, Minnesota’s Disability Community Newspaper, for the Theodore M. Cole, M.D. Memorial Fund.


Donations can be sent to:

Access Press
Ted Cole Memorial Fund
1821 University Ave. W,Suite 104S
St. Paul, MN 55104.

Please make checks payable to “ACCESS PRESS” and note on the memo line “Ted Cole Memorial Fund.” Online contributions to Access Press can be made at www.testing.accesspress.org/donate/

Born December 11, 1931 to Elizabeth Miller and William Roswell Cole, III, Cole spent his childhood in Winchester, Mass., and graduated from Nashua High School, N.H. in 1949. He served in the United States Air Force 1951-1952, attended the University of New Hampshire 1952-1955, Tufts Medical School, Boston where he earned his M.D. in 1959, and he completed an internship and residency at the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. On Valentine’s Day in 1959 he met Sandra Shaw of Boston, and they pledged their love the same year, embarking on a marriage that would last more than 51 years, until his death. He started his career in 1963 on the faculty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, later rising to professor, and was director of thespinal cord injury program, project director of the Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center, and interim director of the medical school’s Program in Human Sexuality. In 1977 the Cole family moved to Michigan, where he chaired the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical Center until his partial retirement in 1994. At Michigan, his contributions to building a strong research department continue to be recognized in the annual Ted Cole Resident Research Day.

Over a long career dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of persons with physical disabilities, he was elected twice as President of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, was a founding member of the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), chair of the American Spinal Injury Foundation, and was awarded the ASIA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He was a key advisor to the National Institutes of Health in the establishment of the National Center of Medical Rehabilitation Research and served on the National Advisory Council and Planning and Policy Committee for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health until his full retirement in 2001.

More recently, Cole provided pro bono advocacy for people struggling with the health care system not knowing what to do or where to turn. He had many passions in life, took great pleasure in sharing music, writing, poetry and photography, and carried from his childhood a love for nature and outdoor adventuring. Together, he and Sandra have been longstanding patrons of theater and the arts in their community. He was a caring mentor and believed in the potential of young people to make a better world. He is preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Nan; and one grandson. He is survived by his wife and best friend, Sandra; Professor (retired) of Human Sexuality at the University of Michigan Medical School; by his elder brothers, Bill and Ralph; his children, Eric, Jennifer, Laura, Adam, and Leanne, their partners; and ten grandchildren. 

He is deeply loved and will be missed.

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