Happy Birthday, OBU


In celebration of the 125th birthday of my beloved alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University, I’m participating in a blogging festival to share a favorite memory of my time there.

You would think that would be easy to do but I have so many that choosing a favorite is next to impossible.

There’s the time we stole borrowed the boat, generator, and TV from the Science Department to spend an evening riding out on Lake DeGray followed by movie watching in the woods with nothing but the moonlight and the sound of a gas generator to keep us company.

There’s the time I got stuck in the mud with Arden Jones on a cold winter’s night because he thought it would be fun to go off-roading on our way back from the Kappa Christmas Party and it was fun, alright, until we tried to cross what looked to be a wide puddle and the truck bogged down and I was wearing new boots and he, ever the gentleman, carried me (NO SMALL FEAT, MIND YOU) from the truck to the side of the road and then we had to hike for a couple of miles to the nearest phone because, you know, it was the stone ages and no one had cell phones.

There’s the time I got called for jury duty the week of junior year finals and not only would the judge not excuse me (he said it was an important part of my college education) but I wound up being jury foreman at the ripe old age of 21.

I also wound up with a date with the defense attorney. 

But that’s a story for another post.

There are the many times I went to Subway with Amy to eat chocolate chip cookies.

Or to Sonic with Amy.

Or to Taco Bell with Amy.

Or really anywhere with Amy.

What can I say?  We were joined at the hip.

But if I had to pick a favorite memory it might surprise you that it came on an ordinary day in a quiet conversation with a beloved history professor, Mr. Lavell Cole.

I was walking across campus on a beautifully sunny, warm day and I was happy.  The specific reason I was happy isn’t important to the story but I remember feeling buoyant, cheerful and supremely contented with where my life was at that exact moment. And as I strolled by the business building, Mr. Cole was sitting on the steps enjoying the sunlight as well and we greeted each other with a smile.  And he said, “Are you happy today?”  And I stopped and grinned and said, “Yes, I am.”

And then he hesitated for just a moment, cocked his head to the side and with a wise, philosophical look in his eye he said, “Remember this day, Susan.”

“What do you mean, Mr. Cole?”

“Remember this very minute and how you feel because there will be days later in your life when things aren’t going so well.  There will be days when life seems bleak and you don’t feel like facing it.  When that happens, remember this day and the happiness that you feel and know that you can feel it again.”

That brief encounter, those wise words of encouragement given 20 years ago have stood me in great stead as I’ve encountered difficulty in the intervening time.

Hope when I didn’t have much to spare.

Light in the midst of darkness.

Firm ground when everything else gave way.

God bless you, Mr. Cole, and God bless you, OBU, for not only giving me moments that made me laugh and moments that made me smile, but also for giving me moments that made me.

Have a nice day.



13 responses to “Happy Birthday, OBU

  1. Oh Mr. Cole was my favorite.You could smell his pipe smoke as you walked down the hallway, and his professor jacket was so nice, and his voice. Wonder how many girls took his classes just to be near him? The thing was that he was an amazing professor and a wonderful human being and did I mention handsome.( yep someone may have had a crush her freshman year!! I love love love OBU,that is where I met some amazing people including you.

  2. My classes with Mr. Cole were my favorite. I can still hear his voice.

  3. I can’t believe you are an OBU grad! I attended OBU in 1966-68 (talk about the Stone Age)! I didn’t graduate from there; I came back to Missouri to get married and finished my degree at CSMU. But, I have so many fond memories of my time at OBU. I went back last fall for my class’ 40th reunion. Six of my closest friends made it back, as well, and we had a wonderful time reminiscing. How beautiful the campus has become!
    Darla McDonough
    Jefferson City, MO

  4. That’s such a sweet story.

  5. I miss that gravelly voiced Yoda of OBU. I wonder if he still holds the record for being voted on the most for graduation speaker. Lydia, my crush lasted all four years. Sigh. Good times.

  6. Ok, I want to hear the jury duty/date story next!!

  7. What a beautiful memory! I can just see (and hear) it all in my mind.
    Did you and Amy go to Baskin Robbins as often as Angie and I did? 😀

  8. Wonderful memories!

  9. Ahhh Mr. Cole! Loved him! Perfect example of an excellent teacher!!!!

  10. weeping… Thank goodness for bright lights in dark places!

  11. Everyone needs a little of Mr Cole’s advice! Love it!!

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