By John F. Lloyd
Liberians across the United States are mourning the sudden passing of one of their most illustrious leaders, Mr. Leslie Norman Abayomi Cole, Sr. He was the founding chairman of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA). He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving wife, Sheila, and family on September 15, 2017.
Cole ascended to the helm of ULAA leadership in 1976 after defeating Charles McArthur Taylor, whom he subsequently appointed as his Director of Public Affairs. He was head of a legendary team of founding leaders of the union including the late Jangaba A. Johnson (AKA Tangaba Jangaba), Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, Charles McArthur Taylor, Blamo Nelson, and Jackie Goodridge. Other founding leaders include Edward Deshield, William Kollie, Ken Nuebel Acolatse, and Gearge Dunye.
Cole was instrumental in laying the foundation of ULAA as President, and later as Chairman of the Board. He was also a founding member of the Liberian Community Associations of New York & New Jersey, and the Liberian Community Association of North Jersey (LCANJ). He remained tenaciously engaged in the affairs of ULAA and championed various Liberian causes for over 40 years spanning his entire life in the Diaspora. He was highly regarded by his peers and served as a mentor to nearly all of his successors. Former ULAA President Al Gbi Toe, referred to him as “a giant among leaders who cannot be replaced.” In a solemn tribute to his predecessor, former ULAA President Siayonkron Nyanseor noted “He maintained his independence. He was not one to compromise his belief for the sake of friendship.”
Beyond the Liberian community, Leslie Norman Cole, Sr. was a renowned, distinguished and well-respected participant in local U.S. politics. He served for numerous years as a Member and then President of the Union Township Board of Education, as well as member and then President of the Union Township Free Public Library. He held numerous other township committee positions and was also the catalyst for the formation of the Union Soccer League. He was also a leader of a number of national and international professional organizations as well as religious and residential communities.
Leslie Norman Abayomi Cole, Sr. CPP. CST, was born in Monrovia, Liberia and moved to the United States in 1970 where he later met his wife at Hahne & Company in downtown Newark, NJ, two years later. They married and resided in Vauxhall, NJ for 39 years and also recently in Boynton Beach, FL. Leslie was a faithful servant of the Lord, and an active parishioner and Liturgist at the United Methodist Church in Union, NJ.
He was a graduate of Booker T. Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Liberia; earned B.A. degree in Political Science at Bloomfield College in New Jersey; and M.A. degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College (City University of New York). He was the Owner/Principal Consultant of the security consulting firm, Leslie Cole Associates, Inc., established in 1983. Prior to establishing his firm, Leslie was Director of Corporate Security & Claims for Edison Parking Corporation for 8 years.
Mr. Cole began his security profession in Liberia, where he worked for the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) under the directorship of Patrick Minikon, and later joined the National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) under the leadership of C. Wellington Campbell. In the spring of 1968, he received his initial foreign security training administered by the Government of the State of Israel. Since then, he received specialized training in 53 areas of public safety from 23 institutions and organizations. He served as an Adjunct Lecturer at the New Jersey City University and as a consultant to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN agency.
He was Board Certified as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), and Certified Security Trainer (CST). He served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC), and was a Former Council Vice President (CVP) of ASIS International, the preeminent organization for security professionals, which includes more than 35,000 members worldwide. As a CVP, he had responsibility for the following Standing Councils: Commercial Real Estate Security; Crime and Loss Prevention Council; Cultural Properties Council; Food Defense and Agriculture; Hospitality, Entertainment and Tourism (HEaT); Information Asset Protection & Pre-Employment Screening; Investigations; Retail Security; School Safety & Security; and, Security Services. Most recently, he was selected to be the RECIPIENT of the 2017 ASIS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, a prestigious honor that we wish he could have lived to accept.
Mr. Cole was also affiliated with the International Organization of Black Security Executives (IOBSE), among others. In addition, he was consistently selected to be a featured speaker on Negligent Security and Litigation Avoidance at educational seminars and conferences hosted by ASIS International, IOBSE, IAPSC, ICLE, NJAJ, SEAK and CNYC.
He was predeceased by both parents, Rev. Charles Abayomi Cole and Mrs. Mabel Rhoda Cole (nee Taylor); his sister Cecilia Wallace and brother Victor Cole. He is survived by his loving wife Sheila Cole (nee, Rose); son Les Cole, Jr., daughter-in-law Evelyn (nee, Baker); daughter Oniki Cole Hardtman, son-in-law Jamel; two “superhero” grandsons Cameron Abayomi Cole and Christian Evan Charles Cole; siblings Robert Cole, Victoria Dempster (Francis), Juliana Cole, Ursula Cole, Christina Johnson (Fayemi), Claire Bennett, Patricia Adadevoh, Joan Cooper; a host of loving nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends.
Leslie’s homegoing celebration is as follows:
Viewing from 6:00PM to 9:00PM on Friday, September 29, 2017 at The Jacob A. Holle Funeral Home, 2122 Millburn Avenue, Maplewood, NJ
Funeral Service at 9:30AM on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at The Prospect Presbyterian Church, 646 Prospect St., Maplewood, NJ 07040