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'Cos' completes last mission

Sep 2, 2008
by Laura Smith

Decorated military veteran creates scholarship for English, business majors

On July 16, 1944, 25-year-old Edward “Cos” Cosgrove wasn’t sure he’d make it to 26. The Air Force lieutenant, a bombardier with the 825th Bomb Squadron, had just completed his 34th aerial combat mission, with one more to go. The target was the Tarascon railroad bridge in southern France. The reward — if he could make it — would be a year of non-combat service and an honorable discharge, with all the promise of a full life and career ahead.

He made it.

And that’s a good thing for present and future Flagler College English and business students, not to mention the hundreds of admiring friends, family and colleagues Cosgrove left behind when he died last May at the age of 88. The long-time St. Augustine resident and business leader bequeathed more than $1.1 million to the college for use as scholarships. And though the heft of the gift is striking, it comes as no great surprise to those who knew and loved “Cos,” a man of generous spirit and long-term vision.

Edward John (Kosikowski) Cosgrove was born in Connecticut in 1918. Following his distinguished military career as a bombardier, he came to St. Augustine, where he met his wife, Margery Renton, a high-energy professional who served for a time as a personal secretary to author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. He served as bank president and chairman of Barnett Bank of St. Augustine, and he also became a very active and generous supporter of Flagler College since its inception in 1968.

“Ed was well-respected as a fine banker who served as president of Barnett Bank in St. Augustine for many years,” said Allen Lastinger, former president and chief operating officer of Barnett Bank Jacksonville. “He and his wife, Margery, were world travelers, and they were very cosmopolitan.”

The Margery Renton and Edward J. Cosgrove Endowed Scholarship awards will be made to Flagler College juniors or seniors from St. Johns County, Fla., majoring in business administration or English. Shrewd businessman to the end, Cosgrove was careful to protect the gift’s potential by stipulating that no funds be drawn against it for the first five years in order to ensure the endowment’s continued growth.

Dashing, fun-loving and adventurous, with a sophisticated outlook born of extensive world travel, the Cosgroves were the toast of St. Augustine for many years. Following Margery’s death in 1989, Edward retreated from public life and spent his final years quietly supporting the college and the organizations in which he believed.

His final bequest to Flagler College — one which will help shape the futures of academically-minded students for many years to come — is a testament to the high-flying success of a brave, adventurous and heroic local leader.

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