Jeffrey A. Cole and his wife Patricia O’Brien Cole have made a transformational gift to continue their philanthropic legacy at the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute. This $31 million commitment will help Cole Eye Institute expand its clinical and surgical capabilities as well enhance its research and educational mission. This will be accomplished primarily through a future expansion to the existing Cole Eye Institute, and would be named the Jeffrey and Patricia Cole Building.
Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute has been ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. News & World Report for the past five years.
The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute is a comprehensive eye institute, with over 100 professional staff physicians and researchers who diagnose, treat, and investigate the entire spectrum of conditions of the eye, including complex problems such as diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, uveitis, strabismus, and pediatric eye disorders. Each year, physicians carry out more than 275,000 patient visits and perform more than 13,000 surgeries – volumes that are among the highest in the nation. In addition, the Cole Eye Institute includes basic and clinical research teams dedicated to understanding genetic and non-genetic based eye diseases in hopes of finding tomorrow’s cures.
“Jeff has been a good friend to the Cole Eye Institute over the years and we are excited to continue our partnership on the next phase of growth that will put us at the forefront of our field,” said Daniel F. Martin, MD, Chairman of the Cole Eye Institute and The Barbara and A. Malachi Mixon III Institute Chair of Ophthalmology.
In 1999, Jeffrey and his company, Cole National Corporation, which was based in Cleveland for 60 years from 1944 to 2004, contributed the lead gift that established the Cole Eye Institute. This new gift will allow for growth and continued excellence in patient care, research and future growth at the Cole Eye Institute.
Jeffrey and Patricia (Trisha) Cole are both native Clevelanders. The Coles reside in Palm Beach, Florida, where Mr. Cole’s family has had a home for over 50 years. They also spend several months each year in Europe.
Mr. Cole led Cole National as Chairman and CEO from 1983 until 2003 when the company entered into discussions that led to its sale to Luxottica in 2004. The company was founded by his late father, Joseph E. Cole. It became one of the world’s largest optical companies with brands including Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical, EyeMed Managed Vision Care, as well as Things Remembered Gift Stores.
Jeffrey Cole co-founded Pearle Europe, now known as Grandvision, in late 1996 with the Dutch investment company HAL Trust. He has served for 20 years as a Supervisory Board member of Grandvision, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The company has grown over the past 20 years to 6,400 optical stores in 45 countries and over $3 billion in revenue and 32,000 employees.
Mr. Cole serves on the boards of Safilo and Hilco. Safilo is based in Padua, Italy and is the world’s second largest eyeglass frame manufacturer with sales of over $1.3 billion. Hilco, based near Boston, is the world’s largest optical accessories company with operations in North America and Europe.
As a Harvard College and Harvard Business School graduate, Mr. Cole was a member and editor of the Harvard Lampoon, The Hasty Pudding Institute, and the D.U. Club. He has been the principal benefactor of the Jack Kerouac Writers in Residence program in Orlando, Florida since 1998 (Kerouacproject.org). Long active in Cleveland, Mr. Cole has served on the boards of The Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Ballet, Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic, and was the chairman of the Ohio Arts Council, the State Arts Agency. Mr. Cole’s first serious exposure to Cleveland Clinic came almost 40 years ago when former CEO, the late Dr. Fred Loop, performed open heart surgery on his father. Dr. Loop subsequently performed open heart surgery on his mother, Marcia Newman Cole. She was also treated for macular degeneration at the Cole Eye Institute.
Mr. Cole’s wife, Trisha, graduated from Bowling Green State University. She was a social worker and later pursued her career as a jazz singer, performing at numerous venues in Cleveland including the Art Museum, the Playhouse Club, Top of the Town, Club Isabella, and Night Town. She has also performed at places of note in New York City, including Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s at The Regency, as well as the Royal Room at the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach Florida. She has released two CDs, her most recent being Out of a Dream.