Arlene and the late Jon “Joe” Cole will be the honorees when the African American Awareness Research Council (AAARC) and Highland County District Library present their annual Black History Month program on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 1 p.m. at the Hillsboro Church of the Nazarene.
The Coles are lifelong residents of Hillsboro who have been and/or were active in the community for 50-plus years.
Hillsboro High School Principal Joe Turner will be the guest speaker. He will address the importance of education and scholarship to the youth.
The 2022 AAARC Scholarship recipients will also be recognized. The recipients are Quintin Captain (Highland County), Jada Holley (Clinton County) and Megan Manns (Fayette County).
Joe Cole was born to Charles F. and Georgeanna West Cole. Arlene was born to James and Edith Handcock Rockhold. Childhood sweethearts, they attended the former Lincoln School before moving on to Hillsboro High School where Joe excelled at track, basketball and football. He is a member of the Hillsboro High School Athletic Hall of Fame, an honor shared with his eldest son, Jon.
Joe graduated from HHS in 1955 and joined the U. S. Navy, serving four years.
Arlene graduated from HHS in 1958. They married on Jan. 22, 1961, and had three sons — Jon William, an infant son they lost, and Maurice.
If Joe were still alive, he and Arlene would have celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this year.
Joe worked at Rotary Forms for 14 years and joined the Hillsboro Police Department for several years as an auxiliary officer. He later worked in construction for Laborers #83 in Portsmouth where he was a union steward.
Arlene worked at Robertshaw Controls for 18 years where she served as a union steward until its closing. She then worked at General Electric in Cincinnati for about a year before a car accident compromised her physically.
Service has been a critical part of Joe and Arlene’s contribution to the Hillsboro community. Over the years they served in a number of groups including housing board, Hillsboro Police Auxiliary, Laborers Local #83, United Auto Workers Local #192, HHS Athletic Boosters, HHS Music Boosters, Highland County Children Services Board, NAACP, Highland County Democratic Party, Magnolia Twig, Wayman Chapel AME, and the African American Awareness Research Council.
Their love of cooking and community led them to assist with the HHS preseason football fish fry for more than 30 years.
Joe passed away on June 5, 2017. Arlene continues to serve where she’s needed. She has two sons, Jon and Maurice, six grandchildren and three stepgrandchildren.
A lifelong resident of Highland County with 19 years of experience in education, Turner is finishing up his fifth year as the principal at HHS. He has been an administrator throughout the district for the last nine years. A 1997 graduate of Fairfield High School, Turner obtained his bachelor’s degree from Wilmington College, master’s degree from Marygrove College and principal/superintendent certification from Xavier University.
”Turner is goal oriented, resilient and encourages feedback from staff and students. These qualities allow him to embrace challenges and see his effort reflected in the effort of others as a path to mastery,” a news release announcing the event said. “Mr. Turner inspires others through success and building professional relationships with staff and students. He takes pride in incorporating an atmosphere of family and community with his students and staff members, making Hillsboro High School a welcoming and safe environment.”
Turner is the son of Fred and Jeanetta Turner and resides in Leesburg with his wife, Melissa, and son, Jojo, who attends Hillsboro Elementary School. He has three adult stepchildren, Dylan, Tressa and Kaylee.
The 2022 Black History Month program will be held February 19 at the Hillsboro Church of the Nazarene at 1:00 p.m. A Zoom link will be provided for the 2022 Black History Month program on the library’s Facebook page. Those attending in person are encouraged to wear a face mask if not vaccinated.
“The AAARC would like to thank all the donors who made these scholarships possible and the church for allowing the use of their building,” the news release said.
Information for this this story was provided by Jennifer West, Highland County District Library.