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Bangor, Brewer, Orono, Hampden, and surrounding communities

Galen Cole

Galen Cole

Sunday, November 29th, 1925 - Thursday, January 9th, 2020
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Obituary

Bangor – Galen Cole, 94 died January 9 in Bangor. Born Nov. 29, 1925 in Bangor, Galen was the fifth of seven children born of Albert J. and Amy (Stone) Cole. He had battled prostate cancer since 1993. A 1944 graduate of Bangor High School, Galen was a combat infantryman with the U.S. 5th Armored Division and lost his entire squad, 5 killed and 8 wounded fighting in Germany on April 2, 1945. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, he served as president of the 5th Armored Division Association and three times hosted the group’s annual reunion in Bangor, including its final reunion in June 2012. He worked 50 years for Cole’s Express, including decades as president, growing the company to a regional carrier serving Maine, northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes. Galen served on and led over a lifetime scores of civic, charitable, military and business groups. He was elected in 1955 to the Bangor City Council at 29, and was mayor in 1958. His life of service included terms as president or chairman of: The Bangor Chamber of Commerce, Bangor YMCA, Target Area Development Corp., Down East Friends of Jackson Laboratory, Associated Industries of Maine and UM College of Business Advisory Board. He served 24 years on the University of Maine Development Council, several as its president. He was an Honorary Alumnus and received the coveted Black Bear Award for outstanding service. The Military Order of the Purple Heart selected Galen for its National Americanism Award. He was an honorary member of the Maine National Guard and received the Distinguished Service Award from the 101st Air Refueling Wing. He led the Dedication Committee for the I-395 Veterans Remembrance Bridge and was selected chairman for Bangor’s celebration and parade marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. In 1994 he helped patriots from Luxembourg form the US Veterans Friends Luxembourg, and served as its honorary president. The Maine American Legion named him Citizen of the Year and later presented him the Distinguished Service Award. Galen received the Norbert X Dowd Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bangor Chamber of Commerce, the Business Leader of Maine Award from the Maine Chamber of Commerce, the Friend of Education Award from the Maine Education Association and an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Husson University. He served 32 years on the boards of directors of Merrill Trust Bank, Merrill Bankshares and Fleet Bank. He was a board member of Central Maine Power Co. and Eastern Maine Medical Center. In 1968 he served as Potentate of Anah Shrine. Galen served terms on the vestry, followed by service as Junior, later Senior warden of Bangor’s St. John’s Episcopal Church. In 1990 Galen and his wife Sue created and opened the Galen Cole Family Land Transportation Museum, which has been visited by more than half a million people from all 50 states, every Canadian province and dozens of foreign countries. Galen considered his highest public honor the gift of 77 Maine antique vehicles even before construction of the Cole Museum was begun. Since its opening and from all corners of Maine more than 50,000 Maine schoolchildren have interviewed veterans in the museum’s Ambassadors of Patriotism program. Maine made maple walking sticks have been given to more than 10,000 Maine veterans of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terrorism. Galen was proud to have the museum grounds the home of several patriotic monuments, among them the Maine World War II Memorial, The Maine Vietnam War Memorial, The Maine Purple Heart Memorial and Bangor’s World War II Memorial. Galen’s highest honor was the 73 year marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Suzanne (Welch) Cole who predeceased him in 2017. Surviving him are their five children, Ann Parke and husband George, Richard “Dick” Cole and wife Jane, Garret “Gary” Cole, Janet Cole Cross and husband William, Galen “Len” Cole Jr. and wife Michele, 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Also surviving is his sister Dorothy Warren. Galen was predeceased by his parents; brothers Gerald, Chesley, and Vaughn; sisters Jackie Wakefield and Winona Sawyer; and daughter-in-law Marsha Cole. The Galen Cole Family acknowledges and thanks the dozens of lifelong employees and family members of Coles Express, plus scores of Cole Museum volunteers who have been vital to the museum’s ongoing success. More than 200 veterans of World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the Global War on Terrorism have shared for 27 years their experiences with Maine youth through the Cole Museum’s Veterans Interview Program. Now 3rd and 4th generation Cole family members are helping assist dozens of Maine Military and Civilian volunteers to assure the continuation of programs for generations to come safeguarding the guiding principle that the Cole Family Foundation will strive always to be Maine’s most efficient charitable organization, following Galen’s commitment to God in WWIII if allowed to return home from that war he would work to leave his fellow man better off than he had found them. A public memorial service will be held at 11:00 am Saturday, January 25,, 2020 at Anah Shrine Center, 1404 Broadway, Bangor with Dr. Steve Smith, Pastor of the First United Methodist Church officiating. All recipients of walking sticks are invited to attend and proudly carry and use them. Those wishing to remember Galen in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the Galen Cole Family Foundation, 359 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401-6723, or to Bangor Savings Bank fbo Suzanne & Galen Cole Donor Advised Fund, P. O box 656, Bangor Maine 04402 (a fund specifically for Reading Recovery and similar programs to benefit Maine children's literacy programs.) Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com.

The Cole family has received many beautiful stories from people who knew Galen throughout his life, some have been heard before while some are new. We are humbled and amazed at how he touched the lives of so many people. We would like to compile a book of these stories so they continue to live on. Anyone who would like to write their stories please email or mail them to the museum, all stories are welcome and appreciated. Please email them to ptrice@colemusuem.org.
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Service Details

  • Public Memorial Service

    Saturday, January 25th, 2020 | 11:00am
    When
    Saturday, January 25th, 2020 11:00am
    Location
    Anah Shrine Center
    Address
    1404 Broadway
    BANGOR, ME 04401
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Those who wish to remember Galen in a special way may make gifts in his memory to: 1) Galen Cole family foundation, 359 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401 2) Bangor Savings Bank fbo Suzanne & Galen Cole Donor Advised Fund, P.O. Box 656, Bangor, ME 04402 (a fund specifically designated for Reading Recovery/ or similar program to benefit Maine children’s literacy program).
    Officiant
    Dr. Steve Smith
  • Interment

    Saturday, January 25th, 2020 |
    When
    Saturday, January 25th, 2020
    Location
    Mount Hope Cemetery
    Address
    1048 State Street
    Bangor, ME 04401
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Affiliations

  • Army
  • Bronze Star
  • Purple Heart Award from the U.S. Military

Condolences

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Mark McDermott

Posted at 12:36pm
My condolences to the Cole family. Like Mr. Cole my father Donald was also a WWII vet., a B-17 pilot with 35 missions out of England. And like many of that generation he was a humble, hard working, quiet man. He knew Galen mainly through dealing with Cole’s Express for many years while he was employed at Fraser Papers. I remember my father talking very highly about what Mr. Cole did for the war veterans. We visited the Cole museum together and my father’s stories of the past in Madawaska “came to life” due to the many vintage pictures and captions there. I would like to thank the Cole family for the cherished memory of my father’s smile and chuckle while there.

Mark McDermott
Madawaska

SM

Susan McKay

Posted at 04:43pm
Dear Cole Family,

On behalf of the Bangor Band, I want to thank you for sharing Galen with us for decades. We would like to honor his memory with a special musical tribute at some point in the future. In the meantime, we will remember his devotion to our area's veterans and are honored that he chose the Bangor Band each year to be a part of his Veterans Remembrance Day ceremony. Sincerely, Susan Willey McKay, President of the Bangor Band.
RP

Randy Porter

Posted at 09:56am
A great person. I have to say Mr. Cole, out of such high respect for this man. He was very kind and generous with his time and talent. He will be greatly missed. He was and is a true gift to the community and to all who knew him. My thoughts go out to all the Cole children and relatives.

I especially appreciate the times he spent with us kids down at Greenlake.
I will miss seeing him.

Respectfully,
Randy Porter
RS

Robert Saltzman

Posted at 08:14pm
Bob Saltzman
Condolences to Galen's family. As many of you know, I have been Galen's friend for very many years ( Since 1st grade , and, in Jr
High, I introduced Galen to Sue)
In April of 2018, at Galen's request, I visited and stayed with him for 3 nights. We visited Sues' grave and had a 74th class reunion
(BHS classof1944).
I've continued to keep in touch with Galen by telephone over the years. I will miss him!
Bob Saltzman
 
JC

Janet Cole Cross Posted at 03:27pm

Thank you for your nice note, Bob. He spoke of you so often. Lifelong friends and buddies. Your relationship meant so much to both Mum and Dad. Thank you again. Love, Janet
 
JC

Janet Cole Cross Posted at 03:35pm

BTW, thanks for for introducing them! :)
EM

Ed Meadows

Posted at 03:05pm
A true leader; inspiration for us all. The Greatest Generation leaves us another challenge to achieve our best. It was a privilege to work for Maine in his shadow. He cared, then took action to make things happen. God bless.
Ed Meadows, Orono
 
JC

Janet Cole Cross Posted at 03:29pm

Thank you for your kind comments, Janet Cole Cross
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