On the shoulders of giants Life after the Erie Square Gazette

Twana Pinskey


Since the earliest years of the Port Huron Area Junior College, there has been a college newspaper on the campus of St. Clair County Community College.

In 2011, SC4’s student newspaper, the Erie Square Gazette, celebrated 80 consecutive years of publishing a college newspaper, once known as the Huron Log.

SC4 alumnus, WWII veteran, teacher, public school superintendent and active pilot, Dr. Robert Coulter, a 1938 graduate of the junior college, is also the former Editor-in-Chief of the then Huron Log, student newspaper of the junior college.

Coulter said his experience as the editor of the Huron Log provided him the experience of writing, as well as life skills, in the area of time management.

“I kept busy. I participated in many clubs while at the college,” said Coulter.

According to Coulter, the dean was always after him because the dean felt Coulter was involved in too many campus club activities. Coulter explained he kept busy by participation and enjoyed all the varied activities campus life had to offer.

However, life was not without its challenges for Coulter.

Coulter said his family moved to the Port Huron area during the depression. His father, worked as an artist and a sign painter. His mother, a stay at home mom, died giving birth. Coulter was 7-years-old.

Despite all these challenges, Coulter said he wanted to go to school. Coulter explained he knew he always liked books and school.

“Even in my childhood, I loved education,” said Coulter.

As he grew into young adulthood, Coulter held different jobs in Port Huron. He worked at Kresge’s, drove a truck and once worked at a dress shop, where his job was to dress the mannequins. Coulter met his wife, Barbara Ann while working at a dollar store.

However after completing his education at junior college, Coulter traveled the world as an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force in World War II.

Coulter completed his junior college education, before meeting and talking to the local draft board president. Coulter said the draft board president, told him (Coulter) that on Monday, he would be joining the army.

“I looked at him and said ‘Like hell I will’,” said Coulter. That same day, he went and joined the Air Corp.

Coulter served in Italy with the Fifteenth Air Force. According to Coulter, some of their missions were flown with the Tuskegee Airmen flying cover for his unit. He shared that while the Tuskegee Airmen flew cover for his group, they never lost a plane. He also recalled how French classes he took at the junior college paid off while serving overseas.

His college French teacher, Miss Lay always told him, “Bob you have to learn this French, you might need it one day.” Coulter said he was able to use his second language to order dinner for himself and his friends while serving in Africa.

He spent four years in the service, with his educational plans changing as a result.

After completing service to his country, Coulter went on to Wayne State University, earning his bachelor of science in education and master’s in counseling and education and doctorate of education. He spent his working career with the Port Huron area schools, eventually rising to position of superintendent in 1947.

Additionally, since retiring, Coulter has written a book, “World at War, WW2: Four Years, Four Months, Twenty Three Days” about his military service.

Today, Coulter contributes time back to SC4, the college where he got his start.

He serves as a volunteer at SC4 events, such as graduation ceremonies. He is a member, and past president, of the SC4 Alumni Association. Coulter also sings in his church choir; as well as serves as the President of the Port Huron Branch of the International Symphony Association.

SC4 alumnus, Dr. Robert Coulter of Port Huron, volunteers at SC4 events, such as last year’s graduation, May of 2011. Photo by Twana Pinskey

SC4 alumnus, Dr. Robert Coulter of Port Huron, volunteers at SC4 events, such as last year’s graduation, May of 2011. Photo by Twana Pinskey

Coulter and his late wife, Barbara Ann, have two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Additionally, Coulter noted that besides him, his grandson, as well as both his children, all were students at St. Clair County Community College.

Regarding the state of journalism, Coulter explained he felt local newspaper reporting did not have the quality as once before. He discussed newspapers of today facing a tough battle to compete and survive.

“Our local paper now prints in Lansing and has equipment sitting in a basement,” said Coulter.

Moreover, Coulter felt that newspapers that publish hardcopy can and will survive Internet newspapers. He felt there would be a turnaround from internet back to hardcopy.

Coulter said that there would be a reaction to internet news, resulting in a shift back to hardcopy.

“I like a book, a newspaper in my hands,” he said.

If you would like a copy of Coulter’s book, “World at War, WW2: Four Years, Four Months, Twenty Three Days” in your hands, contact him at (810)985-5738.


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