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Lavell Cole was born and reared near Hodges Gardens, Louisiana and thrived on “making do” in a rural world that centered on the land and its activities and rhythms. He attended Northwestern State University near home, where he prepared to teach high school history and acquired a Masters degree. He taught and worked as an electrician for Brown and Root before getting the 1969 call that brought him to Ouachita Baptist University in his mid-twenties to teach history. He stayed until increasingly poor health invalided him out of the academy in his mid-fifties and then took his life on November 8, 2004.

A bibliophile and simultaneously a technophile, Lavell by inclination became an early adopter for technology and by default the History Department’s resident computer expert. He learned the hard way about crashes and corrupted 3.5-inch floppy disks, but was always glad to share what he’d learned and how he’d learned it. His eager helpfulness extended Lavell’s influence far beyond the Department.

Lavell’s technophilia pushed his reading into science to keep abreast of general trends in social applications of technology—residential, medical, and manufacturing. He was a generalist in a land where graduate work meant specializing, learning more and more about less and less. In that, he emulated his idol, Thomas Jefferson. Students and colleagues alike joked that his early US History classes never even approached the Civil War because he spent so much time on Jefferson. Most of Lavell’s interest in technology was natural, but a great deal also must have originated in the model Jefferson provided and to which Lavell aspired.

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