Mike Cole 1947-2013
Even though we’re all faced with the two inescapable inevitable’s of life, death and taxes, there are certain people who leave an incredible effect behind them. On April 9th, Mike Cole of Cape Associates in Eastham, Yarmouthport and Chatham left this earth and became one of those people who will always linger in many minds, as someone who can’t be erased from our memories and who will pop into our thoughts with regularity. “Indelible” is a great way to describe these few people and it’s ironic that a few years ago Mike and I had a conversation about another friend of ours, Attorney Pat Butler, who also was taken from this earth far too early. Mike and I had the very conversation about Pat that I now feel about Mike. We’d asked ourselves the same questions about what makes a person’s time, their time to go. We struggled with the fact that someone so good, wouldn’t be around to continue being so good. Frankly, I don’t think Mike and I really figured out the reason for Pat’s being taken but with Mike’s death, I have come to understand a little more.
Great writers and artists often don’t hit their peak success in life, it’s after they die that they are recognized for what they have brought us. For an Indelible, Mike certainly wasn’t a fellow who went around trying to cast a big shadow or to prove his importance. He has always been remarkably thoughtful, considerate, and giving. He certainly had a gift for settling people down rather than riling them up and he has been the type of communicator who dropped you enough hints that you picked up the right trail and took it, as if you yourself had come up with the right idea in the first place.
Mike had just retired and turned over the business of Cape Associates to his children, months before he left us. He didn’t even have time to take a deep breath, relax and reflect like he certainly deserved to be able to. Knowing Mike, he would have embarked on a whole new series of challenges, as Mike was a fixer and a mentor. He is also one of those people that you just can’t imagine the world without. He was a natural part of our industry and a real success at it, growing Cape Associates some 15 fold under his leadership, yet every one of his competitors respected him and even called him for advice. How rare is the person about whom no one has anything bad to say? No one has ever uttered a negative word about Mike, but then he wouldn’t return the favor either. Under his leadership as President, The Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HB&RACC) rose to a whole new level. It became the voice of our industry and began, finally, to be taken seriously by town governments, the Cape Cod Commission, and by our related builder’s associations around the state. Mike literally put us on the map and made us credible.
Seven years ago, when we needed to do extensive construction work on our Wellfleet branch, as we turned it from a former garden center into a lumber yard, I faced every lumberman’s dilemma in choosing a builder from among our customer base. It’s the old tale of making one person happy while angering 900 others because they didn’t get the job. I chose Mike because I knew he’d do a good job but also because he was the one person that everyone else would understand my reason for picking.
Mike’s style was not to force but to coach, to lead and to give you the hints you needed to find your way. I realized at his wake that he has left a lot for all of us. As much as we miss him, we were so lucky to have him. Being the Indelible that he is, I will have many moments where he will pop into my head. He will give me the opportunity to look at the situation through his eyes instead of mine. I’ll have the chance to ask myself, “What would Mike do?” and he’ll have given me another of his hints. He’ll have dropped another bread crumb for me to follow. Mike being Mike, I know that I am only one of very many who will have him pop into their thoughts in the same way. I’ll be seeing Mike for at least the rest of my life and suspect and hope that you will too. Thank you, Mike from all your many friends.