Gerald Cole was born to Jesse and Sarah Cole in Coronation, Alta.
Gerald was predeceased by his parents and one son, Kevin and leaving his children Geralynn, John (Laura), Robin (Edita), Dean, Betty (Glenn Molett), Bonnie and Peggy (Soren Toft) and 13 grandchildren to mourn his loss.
by Ron McCullough
My University of Alberta (U of A) classmate, Gerald (Gerry) Cole grew up on a farm one mile from here [Fairfield Cemetery].
Over a 100 years ago his grandfather walked 70 miles to find their homestead quarter with its rolling hills, wildlife and poplar and willow bluffs.
The grass was up to his knees and he thought this would be an ideal place to run cattle and raise a family. The rich brown loam soil did much more – raising good crops, garden vegetables, an orchard of 60 trees and an acre of selected saskatoons.
Much of this eulogy came directly from Gerry’s writings. Gerry says their childhood nickels and dimes were bounty money earned from hunting and trapping, and a nickel for every chick hatched in nests of crows and magpies, having removed the original inhabitants.
Gerry said “four miles to a one room school, where I was head of my class for eight years….mind you, I was the only one in that grade”.
“People at that time were not ready for consolidated schools, which my father had tried to organize, so he decided to buy a farm at Clive,” Alta.
My father, R.V. McCullough happened to be the area school superintendent for Clive and Gerry’s dad was on the school board, and they became good friends.
From high school and a year at Olds School of Agriculture, Gerry won a two-year scholarship to the U of A, and while working part time and bringing veggies from the farm, managed to graduate, even though he was usually a month late getting there each fall because of the harvest to be done.
When he graduated in ’54 his dad let him buy the farm, using his ‘foregone’ wages that his dad had had to postpone until then.
Gerry had married Margaret Graydon of Lacombe in ’53 and they moved to the Brownfield farm in the spring of ’54.
Beside the crops already mentioned, the farm ran a herd of Crossbred Angus Charolais cattle and grew a strain of canola that had been developed by Canada agriculture plant breeder, Sid Pawlowski, another of our U of A Agriculture classmate of 1954.
In the late 60’s, Gerry’s first wife Margaret passed away.
Not too long after this Gerry married Jean Iris Tatreo, a friend of Margaret’s since teenage years and with Gerry and Margaret’s eight children they became a family of 10.
In addition to homemaking, Jean Iris assumed most of the other chores done by farm wives, hauling livestock and grain, ferrying children to activities, farm accounting, occasional substitute teaching and choir directing for church and community.
Also Gerry was involved with several U of A professors in research projects, and in 1952 his dad and mother were named a Master Farm Family at their Clive farm.
There are now 13 grandchildren. One of the sons bought the original Brownfield farm.
Gerry and Jean Iris have travelled extensively in retirement. They were thankful to spend their winters in their cabin on Keats Island which was always open to all friends. Especially those who wish to earn a degree in wood splitting.
One winter was spent teaching basic agriculture in India.
Their summers were spent in Stettler, Alta. at Heritage House with visits from many friends, family and a weekly Bible study.
Gerry, and sometimes Jean Iris would travel back to the farm a few days a week. With help from the grandchildren, Gerry grew select varieties of corn, potatoes, squash and watermelon.
When he wasn’t gardening or helping on the farm, Gerry tinkered with his collection of 30 antique tractors, trucks and combines – all of which had a story.
I express my gratitude to Jean Iris for the privilege of delivering this eulogy. I would like to end with a quote from Gerry’s writings.
“As for me, personally looking back, I have to say, life has not been exactly as I had thought to pursue or intended it to be, but I have to think Almighty God that it has been extremely interesting, rewarding and sufficiently profitable; most of the time!
“But most of all I’m thankful for his guidance over the years and for what the future holds.
“Of choices and decisions that I can remember, the most important one I ever made was in the bottom of a furrow behind a four bottom plow and steel wheeled tractor, for that is where as a lad I sought and found the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.
“Well, it has been a rewarding and good life of hard work, and high risk, wonderful friendships and memories.”
by Vern Hein
Faithful friend is how our family would describe Gerald Cole.
In the 60’s my Dad, George High and Gerald shared friendship, a love of the soil and the joy in seeing what soil could produce, not knowing that they both would soon be burying their wives.
In 1968, my mom and my new dad, recently widowed and freshly married, were picked up by Gerald on route to a Gideon’s meeting south of Botha at Pogmores.
Gerald had just been widowed, was grieving and juggling how to go on with his big family.
He mentioned a gal, Jean Iris, that night and soon mom and dad and Gerald and Jean Iris shared their similar and challenging family journeys.
Even for us nine kids and the Cole kids, there was a connection. We knew that we shared in the somewhat tumultuous adjustments being made as we grieved as children and adjusted to a life that had turned upside down.
Gideon picnics and sharing a piece of Cole’s huge garden gave us the contact to form friendships.
Loyal to the family friendship, in 1976 Gerald hired this greenhorn for the summer. What stood out to me working with Gerald was his kindness. That was a great encouragement to me as a young man finding his way in the working world.
Ironically, he was probably more patient with me than with his own children, which is just like the rest of us, we tend to be wit our own kids.
I learned about lists that summer. If a rainy morning was too wet to cultivate, out of the bib coveralls came the list. Tasks you couldn’t possibility bring to mind on such a morning but Gerald had them listed and we discussed them, prioritized and attached the rainy day projects.
Another thing that stood out to me was Gerald’s humour. Across the road from this cemetery and a mile south is where Gerald was getting me going with the old International seed drill. I think it was a 24 foot
He explained to me how to make the turn at the end of the field and try not to leave a teardrop shaped piece of ground empty of seeded wheat.
With a grin he said that if I missed any of these spots we would see it in about a month and he would be sending me out to plant potatoes in each of of the empty spots.
I knew from the size of the Cole’s garden that they couldn’t possibly eat the potatoes they had, so I was likely off the hook.
Having now worked for bosses for over 40 years, I realize that Gerald was one of the best bosses I ever had.
Well, time marched on. Mom and dad travelled to many Gideon meetings with Gerald and Jean Iris sharing their family journeys. Vacations on the island together were a real blessing to Mom and Dad. It was a rich friendship of mutual respect.
The last few years as I visited with Gerald, I appreciated his genuine care for my wife Peggy and our kids. He asked about them by name. He asked about my siblings by name and said he was praying for us. I believe he was.
If you’ll take your bulletin and look at the picture of Gerald on the front, that’s the Gerald with those smiling eyes that I visited with the last few years.
So now I say so long Faithful friend, we will see you in glory where we all arrive solely on the merits and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you to Gerald’s family for the honour of paying our faithful family friend this tribute.
God bless you all.