Thomas R. Cole | Obituary

Thomas R. Cole, 94, passed away peacefully at his home in Moscow, ID, surrounded by his wife and children on Monday, November 13. He had battled various forms of cancer over the years, but it was a recent stroke that finally did him in.

Tom had a generous spirit and often defended the underdog, encouraging others to see the other’s point of view. He lived by adages, which he freely imparted to others, such as “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”, “an intelligent mind is never bored”, and “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Tom was known for his generosity, hospitality and humor. He volunteered for years at the Issaquah food bank. His home was always open, hosting traveling relatives, friends and their friends, as they passed through the Seattle area. He was known to pick up hitchhikers along the country roads around Issaquah, oftentimes giving rides to the same individuals.

Tom loved old-time country and bluegrass music, often signing along. One favorite pastime was completing crossword puzzles, often verbalizing the clues for anyone within hearing distance to help answer. He had a love of cars, and at times could not part with them, often inventing his own repairs to prolong their lives. He kept handy checklists of what was wrong with them, so family and friends who drove them would not be caught unaware when doors or heaters wouldn’t work. This and other circumstances often put him in compromising situations from which came many humorous “Tom Cole” stories which are repeated over the decades to the delight of his family (but to his chagrin). But Tom always had a thick skin and laughed along with the rest.

Tom was born in St. Louis, MO, just prior to the stock market crash in October 1929. He graduated from Webster Groves high school in 1947, and attend Wabash College and the University of Missouri, where he finished a degree in journalism in 1954. He served in the Marine Corps, as a swim instructor in San Diego.

He worked as a journalist at the Centralia, Illinois Sentinel newspaper, as a city editor and beat reporter. There, he met his future wife Dianne Betourne, and they were married in 1959. In 1964, he was hired by the Boeing Company of Seattle, WA, to join their public relations department in Renton, WA. While at Boeing, he traveled extensively across the world, especially to South America, promoting the Boeing brand. The family lived in the Mirrormont neighborhood outside of Issaquah, WA for 53 years, and was instrumental in starting the neighborhood community pool and clubhouse and maintaining the history of the neighborhood. In 2018 he and Dianne relocated to Moscow, ID to escape the rainy Cascade foothills to be near family in Pullman.

Tom is survived by his wife Dianne of Moscow, sister Mary Naeher of St. Louis and brother John Cole of Decatur, GA. Also surviving are three children and six grandchildren with their families: Tim (Melody) Cole of Madison, WI, and their children Katie, Caleb and Hannah; Clint (Fiona) Cole of Pullman, WA, and their children Jamie, William and Thomas; and Susan Cole (Don Hudson) of Aloha, OR.

Remembrances in his honor can be made to the Issaquah Food Bank or Doctors Without Borders.