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Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

WCC students say fugitive counselor was helpful, kind

By Kellie Woodhouse

Related story: Counselor or fugitive? WCC employee faces felony charges after four decades of living in hiding

Washtenaw Community College student Prince Logan knew Cole Jordan as the counselor who helped advise him about his future.

Old Police Killing_Wood.jpg

Ronald Bridgeforth, 67, center, with his attorney Paul Harris and wife, Diane, appears in court in Redwood City, Calif., on Thursday.

AP Photo

“He was trying to help get students to a better place in life,” Logan said. “He helped me get on the right path so I could be successful.”

While several students and staff credit Jordan with making WCC a more dynamic place, they’re also rattled by recent news that Jordan had been hiding a secret life for more than 40 years.

Cole Jordan, the name he was known by for 34 years, was an alias.

The counselor’s true identity is Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, and he was a fugitive.

Bridgeforth, 67, turned himself in this week to California authorities, saying he was ready to accept punishment for opening fire on police officers in 1968. On Nov. 5 of that year, he engaged police officers in gunfire after trying to purchase clothing and toys for children with a stolen credit card, his lawyer, Paul Harris, told He pleaded no contest but fled before being sentenced in 1969.

Bridgeforth appeared before a California judge at a hearing Thursday. Harris said Bridgeforth plans to plead guilty to the 1968 charges, which include assault with a deadly weapon and credit card fraud.

A new life

Ten years after his original crime, Bridgeforth ended up at WCC, where he worked until Tuesday of this week, when he resigned.

“He did a lot for the college,” said Don Edenburn, a WCC culinary student. “I don’t know why he had a change of heart. Maybe he was just tired of hiding.”

Bridgeforth lives in Ypsilanti. No one came to the door of his one-story brick home on Hillside Drive on Friday afternoon. A neighbor said he “knew the Jordans,” but declined to comment.


Ronald Bridgeforth's Ypsilanti home on Hillside Drive.

Angela Smith for

Bridgeforth —under the alias Cole Jordan— began his career at WCC as a custodian. In 1993, he received a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Michigan University and in 1998 he became a WCC counselor and faculty member.

Students and staff describe Bridgeforth as affable, kind, outspoken and gregarious.

“He was very loud and animated,” said Allisa Toni Michaels, who works at the WCC student center. “Everybody knew him and he seemed to know everybody.”

Logan said the violent crime Bridgeforth is charged with doesn’t match up with the man he knew as a counselor.

“He would have been against crime, not with it,” Logan said. “He was a pretty good counselor.”

WCC spokeswoman Janet Hawkins said the college did not have any knowledge of Bridgeforth’s fugitive status. Hawkins said Bridgeforth’s resignation and subsequent hearing in California were “a surprising turn of events.”

“It’s shocking, You wouldn’t expect someone in his position to have a past like that,” WCC student Matt Kasman said. “Maybe the work he got into was self-repentance for what he had previously done, to try to make up for his apparent wrong.”

Kasman said Bridgeforth was popular among students and staff.

“He just seemed like a guy that people liked; he had a good personality,” Kasman said. “He remembered faces and people, (which) shows his dedication to his work.”

AJ Fayz, a university bookstore employee, said Bridgeforth would often come by the bookstore to chat with employees.

“My entire knowledge of him has been him being kind to everybody,” he said. “I’m surprised, but you never know what people are really like.”

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 1:01 a.m.

NOT everybody liked him at WCC. He was weird and always had a dark look in his eyes. He is a criminal and he must pay for his actions and if his wife knew about the whole situation... she is an accessory and guilty of harboring a fugitive!!!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

Great to see that our "Christian Nation" does not believe in redemption anymore.

Somewhat Concerned

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

It seems to show that even a man who uses a stolen credit card and is willing to shoot at cops rather than be taken in can be a nice guy, that at Washtenaw Community College nobody bothers to check on the background of their counselors, and that at Eastern Michigan University, you can make up any name, get admitted, and get a Masters degree. I feel sorry only for the WCC students who are lucky he did a good job because he could have been a child molester for all the administration knew.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:52 a.m.

How is EMU at fault here?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:13 a.m.

I think they should give him a suspended sentence after all he is no doubt rehabilitated .


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 8:02 a.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I like how this was posted first, and stole all of the quotes. wasn't even anywhere near Washtenaw's Campus today.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:13 a.m.

Coach Sandusky at Penn State was a great linebacker coach but.....! Please don't fill me up with this great guy stuff, they were not that great!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

Great job with the background check WCC. Who else is working there?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

I'm not sure how they could know a name and social security number are fake.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Why was it necessary to show a picture of his house?

Angela Henry

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

Being that I have personal reservations about this man, all I can really say is that it is nice when you see karma in action.....


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

There must be a lot of students and staff shocked and confused at WWC today. Who would have ever THUNK this of this man? Apparently not many! A neighbor knew the Jordans, but declined comment. Some people can run from others, but not themselves. No matter how you look at it....still SAD!

Mr. Ed

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:09 a.m.

He was kind to everyone but the police. He has been a success as an adult and lived as a good role model. So I guess his debt to society has been paid since he lived a lie and had to watch over his shoulder. But please lets not praise what he did and what he accomplished.