In Memoriam––Thomas Edward (Ed) Cole
NACOGDOCHES, Texas-- Ed Cole, 97, the person who, with his wife Gwen, paid off the mortgage on the Nashville office of the General Commission on UM Men, died December 5, one week after he suffered a stroke.
The Ed and Gwen Cole Center
In 2007, the office building on Music Row was named in their honor.
“Ed and Gwen Cole’s names grace the front of our building,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on UM Men. “Their wonderful donation allows us to use all our resources for ministry to men and scouting.”
In 2007. Ed and Gwen were active members of First UMC in Nacogdoches while Gil and Sher Hanke were members of Perritte Memorial UMC in the same city.
“Ed and I served together on many UM district committees and rode together to meetings,” said Gil. “We often saw each other at events at Steven F. Austin (SFA) State University, particularly women’s basketball.”
Robert Powell, president of the UM Men Foundation in 2007, and Larry Coppock, a staff member of the commission at that time, presented the proposal to pay off the $500,000 mortgage of the building.
Ed asked for time to hink it over.
“Ed and Gwen were joyful givers,” said Hanke. “Ed told me that when they were discussing our request to pay off this building Gwen commented, ‘This just makes too much good sense.’
“Their gift to the commission continues to be a wonderful blessing,” said Hanke.
Ed was born July 22, 1922, in Homer, La., and the family later moved to White Oak, Texas.
After high school, Ed attended a welding school. However, before he could complete the course, he was offered a job at a shipyard in Beaumont, Texas. He worked there from November 1941, to January 1943, when he entered the U.S. Air Force and spent the rest of World War II in England.
Following his 1946 discharge from military service, Ed went to work as a salesman for an oil field supply company in Longview, Texas. “Something is always wearing out on oil drills,” said Ed.
In 1953, Ed hung up his salesman hat and put on a tool belt to help his father build homes. In 1957, he returned to work with an oil field equipment rental company. A year later, he jumped at an opportunity to purchase a 20,000-pound devise to prevent oil well blowouts.
“I had to sell everything I owned to purchase the equipment,” he said. But after February 1958, Ed became his own boss renting a devise that could prevent oil fires. As time passed, he added more equipment and subsequently formed Cole Rental Tools.
Ed meets Gwen
In 1965, Ed was introduced to Gwen Peck by his aunt who taught Sunday school with Gwen at Noel Methodist Church in Shreveport. They were married a year later on Valentine’s Day when they were both 43 years of age.
Gwen was a graduate of Meadows-Draughon Business College in Shreveport, La. She worked for 26 years for the Home Federal Savings and Loan Association in Shreveport. “I did everything, including dusting the boss’ desk,” said Gwen. She was named a vice president after working there for 20 years.
The couple later joined with Lloyd (Red) McLin to form C&M Rental Tools in Beaumont, Texas.
They retired to Nacogdoches in 1978 where the couple became active in activities of SFA State University and First UMC.
Gwen died in 2014..
Support for SFA State University
The Coles never had children, but they sent thousands of young people to college. There are endowed scholarships at SFA State University in their names for music, theater, basketball, audiology, and STEM. “We always think of SFA students as our children,” said Ed.
They also provided funds for Ed and Gwen Cole Student Success Center, Cole Arts Center, Ed and Gwen Cole Concert Hall, Ed and Gwen Cole Simulation Lab at Dewitt Nursing Center and Audio and Simulation Lab.
“I never had the chance for a college education,” said Ed. “I wanted to make sure others could have the opportunity I didn't have.”