David Cole, a biochemist at UC Berkeley for 36 years and a Westmont trustee for 12, died March 13. He was 91. A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m. at the Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, 1435 Cliff Drive.
“Pam and I join the Westmont community in expressing our condolences to the Cole family,” says Westmont president Gayle D. Beebe. “David was a man of great intellect and strong faith who made a significant contribution as a Westmont trustee. He especially encouraged the college to continue strengthening our excellent science program.”
Cole, who was married to Thelma for 64 years before she died in 2008, leaves three children, David, Mimi and Jamie, eight grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
He was born in Berkeley and served in the Army from 1943-46. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (1948) and a doctorate in biochemistry (1954) from UC Berkeley, and he completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Medical Research Institute in London (1955-56) and Rockefeller Institute in New York (1956-58).
Cole observed biology develop from a collection of unrelated fields to a unified, systematic discipline attracting an increasing number of majors. He contributed two chapters to “Methods in Cell Biology” (1978), which published more than two dozen various volumes through 1982. He wrote the chapter about Choh Hao Li in “Biographical Memoirs, Volume 70” by Office of the Home Secretary, National Academy of Sciences. He published numerous papers and contributed a chapter to “In Whose Image? Faith, Science, and the New Genetics” (1989).
He retired in 1993 as assistant dean of the College of Letters and Science.
David and Thelma moved to Santa Barbara in 1996 to be closer to Westmont, where he witnessed the remarkable growth that occurs in students while they’re enrolled at the college.
“Serving on the board at Westmont has been one of the high points of my life,” David said in 2009. “I’ve appreciated the relationships trustees develop with each other and their keen focus on the liberal arts aspect of the college. The time of worship and sharing that begins each trustee meeting was deeply meaningful.”
David believed wholeheartedly in the mission of Westmont. “At a small, liberal arts college students can be immersed in their education and enjoy close interaction with professors,” he said. “That is such a valuable experience, especially for students who struggle with their faith in an intellectual way. Westmont sends out graduates with a thorough, intellectual grasp of their faith, who are well equipped to present it wherever they go. I’ve been impressed with the quality of the Westmont alumni I’ve met — not just with their accomplishments but with the quality of their lives as well.”