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Area mourns the loss of philanthropist Milt Cole | News

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Coles named Business Couple of the Year

Milt and Jean Cole, house owners of Cole Hardwood and Indiana Dimensions Inc., have been named 2014 Enterprise Couple of the 12 months by the Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce. Milt Cole died on Thanksgiving with household at his aspect.

J. Kyle Keener | Pharos-Tribune




The flags exterior Cole Hardwood are at half-staff to acknowledge a loss not simply to the enterprise, however to the household and the buddies of William Milton “Milt” Cole.

His demise on Thanksgiving can also be a loss to the neighborhood that he generously gave to, including his assist to schooling, historic websites and civic teams.

Many recalled a saying he had about his philosophy, which was additionally quoted in an Ivy Tech publication: “We’re all on this stairway, and nobody reaches the highest with out reaching out to others. If you’ll attain again and assist somebody who’s a step or two behind you, you not solely elevate your self and that particular person, you elevate your area people and society generally.”

Cole actually elevated the neighborhood, stated his son, Keith Cole.

“He’s given again all his life. He stated Logansport was at all times good to him,” and he needed to repay that, Keith stated.

Milt and his spouse Jean Cole’s generosity of $1 million in 2008 towards the brand new Logansport Ivy Tech campus led others to creating contributions, and the constructing is called for the Cole household.

“He impressed different individuals in the neighborhood to present,” stated Ivy Tech Chancellor Emeritus Steve Day by day. “That multiples your reward many occasions over.”

Milt Cole was born in 1935 in Drummonds, Tennessee, transferring to Logansport in 1956. He was from a household of 11, stated Jean Cole.

She recalled him saying, “We had so little cash, all we may afford was a very good angle.”

Working in his father’s sawmill, he misplaced two fingers, and his father stated he would possibly as properly go to highschool to learn to grade hardwood. 

The proprietor of John I. Shafer Hardwood in Logansport met him and needed to rent the newly-married Milt Cole. Milt didn’t wish to come to the chilly north, however Shafer supplied more cash, Jean stated.

After working on the lumberyard for some time, the couple started shopping for farmland within the early Nineteen Seventies, beginning with a Christmas tree farm the place their second home was positioned.

He used that to leverage, shopping for the hardwood firm in 1986 after which continued to purchase extra farm land, Keith stated. Milt advised Jean that God advised him to purchase farmland.

For the final eight years, Milt suffered persistent obstructive pulmonary illness [COPD] and steadily bought worse, Keith Cole stated.

He was 85 when he died.

“It was simply time,” Keith stated. “He was hurting.”

With the vacation, “he bought to see his household earlier than he left that night time,” Keith stated

Milt turned identified nationally in 1998 when a hearth went via the lumberyard, and he rebuilt bigger as a substitute of strolling away. The media all carried: “Milt Cole stated nobody would miss a paycheck,” Jean recalled.

His different son, Randy Cole, stated, “He was a really proficient man. He was blessed with immense frequent sense, and he was a tough employee — and he cherished humanity.”

He was the rock of the household, Randy stated.

That prolonged exterior the household, too. “I most likely have extra brothers than you’d know,” stated Keith. “A number of males consider him as a father.”

Cole Hardwood gross sales and buying worker Tom Oilar, who knew Milt Cole since 1979, feels that method and recalled Milt being inspirational.

“He was the epitome of optimism, one of many primary mentors of my life, for certain,” Oilar stated. “Like a father determine, he led firmly however compassionately.”

Oilar stated Milt taught him to “lead with love as a result of he cherished all people.”

Folks within the trade nonetheless say they bear in mind after they first met Milt, he added.

Gross sales Supervisor Dave Bramlage, who knew Milt sine 1979, stated, “Milt was a frontrunner far past Cole Hardwood. He was cherished nationally by individuals in our trade. [Milt was] probably the most compassionate man and beneficiant man I’ve ever identified in my life. He lived by that and by no means modified.”

Deanna Crispen, president of the Cass County Neighborhood Basis, had identified Milt since she was 9 years outdated.

“His impression on my life personally is immeasurable,” Crispen stated. “He was loyal, a mentor, supporter, trustworthy listener and at all times inspiring me however with the expectation that I wanted to work arduous and good issues would occur.

“As years handed and Milt’s enterprise and affect grew, he stayed the identical humble, approachable chief. He at all times had time for individuals regardless of how busy he is perhaps, and naturally no assembly with Milt ever began and not using a southern kiss on the examine — didn’t matter for those who have been male or feminine.

“Milt taught me numerous useful enterprise classes, however a very powerful lesson was his philosophy of giving and serving to others,” she stated. “Milt used to continually say, ‘You possibly can’t give good away.’ He believed together with his complete coronary heart that no matter good you place out on this planet would come again to you threefold.”

Jean Cole stated her and Milt’s generosity began from day one, simply giving time after they didn’t have the cash.

She grew up on a dust street with no electrical energy, they usually got here to Logansport with a cedar chest and a tv set and wouldn’t have dreamed she’d be this far in life, however what you give comes again in some kind.

Later after they couldn’t afford a civic undertaking, they nonetheless pledged, she stated.

“By some means the cash would at all times present up,” she stated.

Milt’s generosity to schooling began after he served on the Indiana College Kokomo Board of Trustees, and he and Jean served on the Ivy Tech Board of Regional Trustees.

The Coles not too long ago made a $60,000 dedication to assist annual scholarships at Ivy Tech and to determine a scholar ambassador program to achieve out to Cass County excessive colleges.

“I don’t suppose you’ll be able to speak about Ivy Tech with out pondering of Milt and Jean Cole,” stated Kelly Karickhoff, govt director of Useful resource Improvement for the Kokomo and Logansport Ivy Tech campuses.

“Milt Cole was a real philanthropist, an individual who at all times sought to advertise the success of others,” Indiana College Kokomo Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke stated. “Over time he has been so beneficiant to Indiana College Kokomo. He has established multiple scholarship permitting college students to comprehend their levels; he supported the renovation of the Cole convention room by offering lovely Cole lumber; and he financially supported the Cole Household Health Middle which supplies a phenomenal facility for our college students to train and keep wholesome. He by no means sought recognition; he simply needed to assist others succeed.”

The Coles additionally gave to statewide organizations just like the Riley Hospital for Youngsters, and he was concerned in native civic organizations.

Ivy Tech Chancellor Dean McCurdy stated, “There actually wasn’t a corporation that he didn’t contact.”

Jean stated, “You title it, he did it.”

Milt obtained honorary levels from each faculties, and he or she obtained one from Ivy Tech.

He additionally obtained the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Indiana’s highest honor, however the listing of awards the couple earned is intensive. However, Milt didn’t do it for the popularity, she stated.

McCurdy stated that Cole’s story of going from humble beginnings to profitable entrepreneur exemplifies the US.

“He actually captures the perfect of what this nation has to supply,” McCurdy stated.

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