William P. Cole was a prominent alumnus of the Maryland Agricultural College (now University of Maryland, College Park. He was born on May 11, 1889 in Towson, Maryland. Cole attended MAC in the early 19th century, where he participated in baseball, the campus military group, and several clubs. He graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering in 1910. After finishing his undergraduate education, he studied law at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and was admitted to the bar in 1912. Cole joined the military as a first lieutenant in World War I. When the war ended, he set up a legal practice in Towson, Md. He built a family with his wife, Edith, and son, William P. Cole III. Cole was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1927, and served until 1929. He ran again in 1931, and held his position until 1942, when he was appointed to a U.S. Customs Court judgeship. He was dealt a hard blow when his son was killed in action during World War II. Cole never fully recovered from this loss, and kept the memory of his son close. Cole was a member of the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents for 25 years. For 12 of those years, he served as board president (beginning in 1931). In 1952, President Harry S. Truman appointed him judge of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals in New York. He served in this position until his death on September 22, 1957. The Cole Student Activities Building was named in his honor in 1956.
Cole in the Yearbook
- Reveille, 1910, pg 21
- The Terrapin, 1956, pg 67
- Vertical files on William P. Cole, Jr. and William P. Cole III from the University Archives
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, “Cole, William Purington, Jr. (1889-1957)”
- Alumni Association biography, “The Honorable William P. Cole, Jr.”