The name Poughkeepsie comes from the indigenous Wappinger language “U-puku-ipi-sing” meaning “reed-covered lodge by the little-water place”. Located in the shadow of the Shawangunk Mountains and along the eastern shore of the Hudson River, Poughkeepsie is not only “home” to the Culinary Institute of America, the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library, but also the birthplace of Clinton Cole Barnard, born January 16, 1925 to Clinton Barnard and Florence Cole.
Not knowing of his pending culinary career nor the role FDR would play in his life, Cole left Poughkeepsie at the age of 6 months in the company of Clinton and Florence (“Mr. and Mrs. B”) and moved to the small town of Cobleskill where the Barnard’s had purchased a hotel known as the Augustan.
Under the proprietorship of Mr. and Mrs. B, the Augustan became a welcoming center for the town and Cole grew to appreciate and become proficient at nearly every task associated with both the hospitality and business of running a hotel. Active in sports and music, Cole completed schooling in Cobleskill graduating from Cobleskill High School in 1942. He then went on to the Manlius School in Manlius, NY for preparatory schooling and military training, graduating from Manlius in 1943, prior to joining the Army that same year.
Enlistment was followed by basic training in Camp Roberts, California where an expert sharpshooter badge was earned along with a posting to the AST Program in Tacoma Washington’s College of Puget Sound. At CPS Cole met Alice Ann Cross and as the ASTP servicemen were called to active duty on March 11, 1944, Cole wrote that he “knew by then that if there was to be a rest of my life, I wanted to spend it with Alice.”
As part of the 11th Armored Division, rifleman Cole saw active combat duty in Europe beginning with the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and on through VE Day in 1945, being promoted to the rank of Staff Sargent. Following German surrender he served as part of the occupying force in Austria until his return home in 1946.
Upon discharge from the Army Cole continued his courtship with Alice and began his degree studies in Hotel Administration at Cornell University. He and Alice were married in June 1947 upon her graduation from CPS. Cole graduated Cornell in 1950 and together he and Alice moved to Cobleskill and with his parents jointly ran the Hotel Augustan.
The hotel continued to flourish as a warmly welcoming family business and home to many civic and town-focused activities as well as housing several other small businesses. The hotel’s grand front porch and commanding Main Street presence even served as pulpit for politicians such as Nelson Rockefeller.
With a more mobile post-war society the hospitality industry underwent change and profoundly affected many established downtown and small town hotels, including the Augustan. After unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer for the business, Cole and Alice sold the Augustan to a local group of businessmen for a dollar so that it would continue to operate, offer employment, and provide a community-centered focus.
Cole accepted a position in the Food Service and Hospitality Administration Division at the State University of New York at Cobleskill. Cole served as Dean of the division for twenty years, from 1971 until his retirement in 1991 and oversaw the growth of the division, an increase in its culinary student enrollment, establishing a student run restaurant and developing SUNY Cobleskill as a place to learn the requisite skills in hospitality services.
Cole and Alice, both active in the community, raised four children in idyllic small town Cobleskill. Cobleskill is but a part of a larger world that both Cole and Alice knew and not forgetting Alice’s roots and family ties, Cole and Alice traveled with their children every four years to Tacoma, always taking a different route, camping and exploring the country, sites and people.
Wildness, even in its smallest places, found through exploring near and far by car, canoe, on foot, snowshoe or skis, brought Cole and Alice to purchase wilderness in rural Schoharie County. Wild lands near the Lousekill, where Hessian soldiers in the Revolution stopped to bathe and de-louse in the creek whose name bears witness to that event, drew Cole and Alice to build a log cabin. The cabin was constructed completely by hand and became for them, the “log-covered lodge by the little-water place.” With the help of all four children, the cabin was completed just prior to Alice’s death in 1975.
In 1980 Cole married Ruth Dougall White and together while both working at SUNY Cobleskill and especially after retirement, spent time enjoying traveling, gardening, golfing and cooking and the many friendships in Cobleskill. Cole and Ruth were married for 33 years until her death in 2013, when Cole decided to leave Cobleskill.
Cole moved in the direction of many of his travels before and headed west, again to the evergreens of the Pacific Northwest and the city of Bellingham, Washington where he took up residence in the Willows retirement community. Sharing the laughter, warmth and depth of experiences that only others of your age can know, Cole made friends and began anew with an appreciative smile for life and all those at hand.
Known affectionately as Cokie, Barney, Cole, Dad, Mr. B, and “honeydeardarling”, hearing each of these spoken over a lifetime by different voices in different ways, Clinton Cole Barnard, veteran, father, loving husband, artist, historian, canoeist, gentle man, peacefully died on April 14, 2018 at the home of his daughter at the age of 93.
Cole was loved and admired for his depth of character, infinite integrity, wit and laughter. His care, kindness, and culinary miracles in the kitchen and around the camp stove will be greatly missed.
Cole loved his nine grandchildren and is survived by his children Belinda (Gary) Ferrara, Stephen Barnard, Nancy (Allen) Middleman, and Elizabeth (Harry) Herdman, and by Ruth’s two sons, John and David White. A summer burial is planned at the Cobleskill Rural Cemetery amidst the wild thyme.