About 150 people from all corners of the city came together for a couple of hours Wednesday to honor the long, rich public career of Dr. Edward L. Cole.
Cole steps down from the City Council chairmanship Tuesday.
Cole has served in virtually every capacity as an elected city official. He was a council member from 1965 to 1967, then was elected mayor from 1985 to 1987.
In 1989, Cole, 76, was again elected to the council, then re-elected to a second four-year term in 1993. Council members named him their chairman in 1996.
Cole's parents moved to St. Petersburg with him in 1922. After attending schools here, he obtained his medical degree from the University of Virginia and returned to practice as a pediatrician for more than 40 years.
His practice over the years was so wide-ranging that during council meetings he would routinely note the people with business before the council whom he had delivered at birth.
His daughter, Vicky Cole Froom, movingly touched on the unique nature of his practice when she recalled Wednesday how, as a young girl, she would accompany Cole as he made medical calls. Often, she said, those calls were at Mercy Hospital, the only hospital for black residents in then-segregated St. Petersburg.
Among the guests who gathered to honor Cole were Mayor David Fischer; former Mayor Robert Ulrich; William Heller, dean of the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus; and USF president Betty Castor.
The luncheon, held at the St. Petersburg Bayfront Hilton, was sponsored by the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the city.