William Milton “Milt” Cole, age 85, Logansport, passed away at 9:36 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020, in his residence.
Born Sunday, January 20, 1935, in Drummonds, Tennessee, he was the son of Cliff and Jessie Embry Cole.
On December 3, 1955, in Tennessee, he married Jean Rhodes, who survives.
A 1952 graduate of Munford High School in Munford, Tennessee, Milt served his country in the Tennessee and later, Indiana National Guard.
Also surviving are three children, Suzy (Brad) Thompson, Tennessee, Keith (Carmella Ricci) Cole and Randy (Candy) Cole, all of Logansport; grandchildren, Leigh Ann Garst, Hannah Ruth Thompson, Nathan Thompson, Tyler (Sarah) Cole, Brittany (Nick) Burke, Brad (Ashley) Gleitz, Sabra Wilson, Tori (Aaron) Wagoner; great grandchildren, Jonah Garst, Elijah Garst, Cooper Cole, Tucker Cole, Ryder Wagoner, Cruz Wagoner, Liam Wilson, Haley Gleitz, Brayden Gleitz, and Makenna Gleitz.
Also surviving are siblings, Bettie (JM) Cole, Goodin, Tennessee, Patrick (Janelle) Cole, Patsy (Tommy) Turner, all of Tennessee; sisters-in-law, Marlene Cole, Cincinnati, Peggy Cole and Cathey Cole, both of Tennessee; numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Preceding in death are brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Rachel and William Cole Ferguson, Mary Glen Cole, Charles and Mary Cole, Carolyn Faye and Howard Cole King, Calvin Cole, James Cole, and Maynard Cole; and several nephews.
In 1956, Milt moved to Logansport for a job with John I. Shafer Hardwood Company. After serving as general manager, he bought the business and renamed it Cole Hardwood.
When fire destroyed the lumberyard in 1988, Milt stood before his workers and promised them that no one would miss a paycheck. He rebuilt the business, overcoming damages worth $14 million.
Milt and Jean established the Cole Family Scholarships at Indiana University Kokomo. In 2005, Milt received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Indiana University.
Along with being a successful business leader, Milt tried his hand in the early 1970’s at a hobby… farming. His first introduction was overseeing a Christmas tree farm. His two sons, Keith and Randy, planted, hand trimmed, and sprayed 10,000 Christmas trees yearly for Milt. As they reached maturity, the customers would walk the tree farm and pick out their Christmas trees. Jean and the boys would then cut the trees hile Milt entertained the customers with his joyful spirit and handed out apples.
The money from the Christmas trees helped Milt purchase his first crop field from the Dawson farm. He began with a small patch of land and an old, cabless tractor. Milt’s combination of hard work and strong faith turned a hobby into a successful farming production over the years.
Although work and hobbies were important to Milt, nothing was as important as his family in Logansport, Indiana and Tennessee where he grew up. He often made trips to Tennessee to visit his siblings and other family in the area, stressing the importance of gathering.
As his grandchildren were growing up, Milt would often stop by their homes to play a quick game of Dominos and discuss their daily school news. Usually staying for a bite to eat at the dinner table, the conversations always led to life lessons.
Always teaching, Milt would express the importance of a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and giving back, no matter how big or small. He believed the more you give, the more you receive. Another valuable lesson shared with his sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren included, “Show me, don’t tell me.”
Philanthropic-driven, Milt always wanted the best for his community. Traveling for the lumber yard, Milt was able to visit nearly every state and continent in the world. These experiences opened his eyes to how special the state of Indiana was, especially where Milt spent most of his life - Logansport. He often said, “There is no better place to live than in Logansport, Indiana.”
Throughout his life, even to the end, Milt kept a very strong faith. Always remaining positive, he felt incredibly blessed and grateful for the life he lived, the people he loved, and the community that shared such a special place in his heart.
His recognitions include receiving the Logansport Exchange Club’s “Book of Golden Deeds” award, Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year”, “Sagamore of the Wabash” conferred by Governor Frank O’Bannon and a story featured in a book written by Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto entitled, “More Than Money: True Stories of People Who Learned Life’s Ultimate Lesson.”
Milt’s local past and current affiliations include Board of Directors of Salin Bank & Trust, Board of Directors of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, Logansport Rotary Club, Logansport Elks Lodge BPOE #66, Calvary Presbyterian Church where he also served as Elder, Treasurer of the Logansport Economic Development Foundation, IUK Foundation Advisory Board, Logansport/Cass County Chamber of Commerce, Cass County United Way Fundraising Chairman and the Board of Directors of the Logansport Memorial Hospital Foundation, Chairman of the Board of the Sangralea Valley Boys Home, President of El-Tip-Wa Building Trades program, Board member of the Northern Indiana Community Foundation (predecessor of the Cass County Community Foundation) and Cass County Coordinator for Senator Lugar’s Re-election.
In the hardwood industry, he was CEO of Indiana Dimension, Inc. (sister Company of Cole Hardwood), Lumberman’s Underwriting Alliance Advisory Board, Hardwood Manufacturers Association Executive Board, National Hardwood Lumber Association Board of Directors, Purdue University School of Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Board, Purdue University Forestry Department Steering Committee, President of the Hardwood Distributors Association and President of the Indiana Hardwood Lumber Association.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Cass County Community Foundation, PO Box 441, Logansport, IN 46947, Calvary Presbyterian Church, 701 Spencer Street, Logansport, IN 46947 or the Ivy Tech Foundation for the Cole Family Scholarship, PO Box 1373, Kokomo, IN 46903 or online at https://connect.ivytech.edu/kokomo.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private, family-only service and burial in Mount Hope Cemetery, Logansport, was held earlier this week. A public Celebration of Milt’s Life is tentatively scheduled for June, 2021.
Memories or messages of condolence may be posted at www.kroegerfuneralhome.com.
The Cole family entrusted Kroeger Funeral Home, 711 East Market Street, Logansport, (574-722-6000) with funeral arrangement details.
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