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Colonel Donald C. Cole June 16, 1932 - February 4, 2024

Colonel Donald Clausen Cole, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle passed away peacefully on February 4th, 2024, at the Bennion Veterans Home in Payson, Utah. He was born on June 16th, 1932, in Salem, Utah, to Thaddius Debbs and Ella Sheen Cole.

Don was born and raised in Salem Utah, a town in which he loved dearly. He lived for most of his life not 500 feet from where he was born. He absolutely loved growing up on the pond in Salem and spent many summers swimming and in the winter ice skating. Don’s dad instilled in him and his brothers the importance of hard work and had a beaver farm located where his current house sits today.

Don’s educational journey started in Salem’s grade school and culminated in his graduation from Spanish Fork High School. While education was important to Don, he found just enough time to get distracted by a lovely young woman named JaneAnn Beck, who later became his wife. He then pursued higher education at Brigham Young University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree and later his master’s degree in civil engineering. Don always encouraged his sons and grandchildren to pursue education, despite facing his own difficulties during his schooling.

Don and JaneAnn’s love story began in Spanish Fork, Utah, where they were married on July 9th, 1952. Their marriage was filled with joy and adventure, as they traveled the country together, often with a trailer in tow, in search of new fishing spots, much to JaneAnn’s occasional dismay. They also enjoyed visiting their numerous National Guard friends, treating, and cherishing them like family. Don cherished JaneAnn deeply, and she kept him in line, making them a match made in heaven. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti Temple in 1963.

One of the highlights of Don’s life was his service to his country. He proudly served for 36.5 years, beginning with the United States Air Force 191st fighter bomb squadron during the Korean War. After his stint in the Air Force, he served in the United States Army. He later served with the 140th fighter bomb group in the Air National Guard and concluded his military career in the Utah National Guard as Commander of the 116th engineers and camp commander at Camp Williams near Lehi UT Don formed unbreakable bonds with his comrades and cherished the life lessons he learned during his time in the service.

Don devoted 36 years to working as a Civil Engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation. In addition to his full-time job and military service, he also found time to operate his own surveying business, Cole’s Surveying and Engineering, until his retirement. Don was known for his incredible work ethic, often coming home from one job only to dive into another in his cluttered home office, which became the stuff of legend within his family.

Throughout his life, Don actively participated in various organizations and community activities.  He served as president of the Loafer Recreation Association, a role that brought him immense joy. Additionally, he was a dedicated member of the American Legion, post 37, where he continued to serve his country by performing burials for his fellow service members. Don was also a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Don had a zest for life and a wide range of interests. He treasured the time spent traveling with his National Guard friends, watching any type of ball game, and capturing the world through his camera lens. Don was an avid outdoorsman, particularly passionate about hunting and, of course, fishing. His love for fishing often led to major family vacations centered around the pursuit of the perfect catch.

Those who knew Don will remember his sharp wit and keen mind. He remained as sharp as a tack until the very end, always on the lookout for a playful moment or a chance to share one of his famous stories. Whether it was singing made-up songs in his truck or his infamous “pull my finger” moments, Don kept his family and friends on their toes, making every moment memorable.

Don was preceded in death by his loving wife of 69.5 years, JaneAn Beck Cole, his father Thaddius Debbs Cole, his mother Ella Sheen Cole and his step mother Zeeliah Cole, his son Don Ross Cole, and his siblings Douglas (Doris) Cole, Stan (Callie) Cole, Jane (Art) Jex, sister In laws Grace Cole, Ermalee (Dick) Bills, brother in laws Edward Beck, Dallas Adams, and nephew Doug Cole, and close family friend Kenneth Larsen, along with so many other close family friends that he loved dearly, all of whom have been waiting patiently for his arrival.

He is survived by his two sons, Glen (Julie) Cole and Michael (Natalie) Cole both of Salem, sister-in-laws Barbara Adams and Barbara Ann Beck, eight grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, many cherished nieces and nephews, and close family friends.

The family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at the Bennion Veterans Home in Payson for their exceptional care, as well as the Elk Ridge Assisted Living facility for their unwavering support during Don’s last few months.

Family and friends are invited to bid farewell to the Colonel, as he was affectionately referred to, at the Walker Funeral Home at 187 South Main Street in Spanish Fork, Thursday, February 8th, from 6 pm to 8 pm and then Friday at 695 south 300 west, Salem Utah for a short viewing from 9:30 am to 10:45 am with the funeral services beginning at 11 am. Interment will take place at the Salem City Cemetery with Military Honors performed by the American Legion Post 68. Don’s legacy will live on as a testament to his love for his family, his dedication to his country, and his unwavering work ethic.

Don’s impact on the lives of his loved ones and community will forever be cherished, and his spirit will continue to guide and inspire all who had the privilege of knowing him.

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Visitation

Thursday evening, February 8, 2024
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Walker Funeral Home
187 South Main Street
Spanish Fork, Utah 84660
Map

Visitation

Friday morning, February 9, 2024
9:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Salem 3rd Ward meetinghouse
695 South 300 West
Salem, Utah 84653
Map

Funeral Service

Friday, February 9, 2024
11:00 a.m.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Salem 3rd Ward Chapel
695 South 300 West
Salem, Utah 74653
Map

Interment

with Military Honors

Friday, February 9, 2024
Salem City Cemetery
979 South 130 East
Salem, Utah 84653
Map

Condolences(4)

  1. REPLY
    Lisa (Miller) Nielsen says

    Mike, I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I hope you and Natalie and your family can find peace and strength at this time.
    Love,
    Lisa (Miller) Nielsen

  2. REPLY
    Paula Densley says

    What a Hero to so many🩵🇺🇸😇RIP Donny❤️❤️❤️Much love to you and your family💙

  3. REPLY
    Marlan & Patty Roper says

    I remember Don coming and spending time with my dad, Molen Roper. Dad had experience with the Bureau of Reclamation and worked in the office of Soil Conservation. My mom was Don’s cousin. I feel their conversations were about civil engineering and my dad had a big influence on Don’s choosing his profession. He lovingly supported
    my parents and family. I really appreciate his military service and how he served the fallen heroes. I am proud to call him family.

  4. REPLY
    kathi says

    Kathi Skillicorn Hjelm

    We were so sad to hear of Don’s passing. He will always hold a dear part in our hearts. His stories were always the best! I know my dad had the best last day of his life fishing & sharing military stories with Don. It gave us peace to know it was just a perfect day for best friends. Such a sweet, kind person, Don made a cross/plaque and placed it where they shared their last day. I am sure they are up in heaven chatting and fishing again today. Thank you Don for being a wonderful person and dear friend. Kathi (Skillicorn) and family, Scott, Holli & Martha. May the laughter & memories comfort you. Sending hugs! (photo added of Montana group on Legacy.com obit)

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