Fred L. Cole, Jr. of Harlingen, Texas passed into the next phase of his eternal existence on January 22, 2022, just 10 days after the passing of his wife of 48 years, Martha Cole. His family and friends will miss greatly this one-of-a-kind man who lived every day to the fullest, and who knew nothing less than giving 110% to every endeavor he undertook.
He was a complex man of extremes and contrasts—hard working and soft hearted, frugal and generous to a fault, demanding and a pushover, proud and self-effacing, perplexing and endearing. Everyone who knew him had a ready supply of Fred Cole stories. They would almost all begin with a shake of the head and end with a laugh. One of his favorite sayings, and words he lived by every day, came from his father. “A little thing is a little thing, but honesty in a little thing is a great thing.” If you knew him you would never forget him and, more important to him, he would never forget you.
Born on November 2, 1937, Fred was a devoted son and brother, growing up in the love of two parents who not only cared for him fiercely, but pushed him to unlock his own potential. Fred learned at a young age the drive and passion that inspires an entrepreneur, as he would grow in personality and trait to be so much like his own father. His memories of his devoted and ever-present mother were similarly fond and full of praise, and his younger brother Rex was his beloved sidekick and companion in all things. His young life was full of adventure, hard work, and aspirations fueled by the belief he could do anything to which he set his mind.
This mindset was evident when Fred began his first business fresh out of college at the age of 21, a step that would lead him into numerous ventures including a long-running cash register company, multiple real estate developments, a business complex, and much more. Honest and trustworthy to a fault, he applied excellence and an unwavering belief in himself to all he did. As a young man, Fred also found great purpose and success in the Harlingen Junior Chamber of Commerce, or “Jaycees,” where he served as president and received the Distinguished Service Award of Jaycee of the Year as well as the Outstanding Young Man in Harlingen Award. His experiences with the Jaycees helped shape his views on serving his fellow man, perpetuating his belief that the more you give to others, the more you yourself receive.
One of Fred’s first loves was Texas A&M University, in particular the Corps of Cadets, which he credited with undeniably changing his life for the better. While working his way through college to pay for his tuition, he learned countless valuable lessons, made lifelong friends, and positively impacted many of his fellow Corps members. For decades in his later life, he helped recruit hundreds of students to attend Texas A&M, personally driving many there himself in his station wagon for a campus visit. Countless numbers of Aggies are today successful in the world thanks to Fred’s guidance, encouragement, and support.
Deeper still was Fred’s love and admiration for his wife of 48 years, Martha, with whom he built a beautiful family of four daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (as well as 14 young people who stayed for some duration in their home, and whom Fred considered real members of the family). Martha was his faithful partner in every endeavor, dedicating herself right alongside his entrepreneurial spirit and passions. The two loved dancing together and hosting great events with their family and friends, as well as traveling the world. Together he and Martha took more than 150 trips and visited 50 countries, but their favorite destination was always South Padre Island, where they felt the stress and the weight of the world slip off their shoulders.
Another lifelong dedication for Fred was his faith and the Episcopal church, where, as a young man, he served as president of the Canterbury Club and acolyte. Later in life he would go on to direct the acolyte program at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and serve as lay priest and reader for more than 50 years. Fred filled many additional roles at St. Alban’s, including serving on the Vestry and school board, and helping oversee the construction of the school building. He wore his personal cross daily and had a very real and intimate relationship with God that steered him through the hardest times in his life.
Fred will be remembered for his energy and enthusiasm that was new with each day. A writer at heart, he left his family with the following Cole Family Philosophy: “Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, say more. Hate less, love more… And all good things are yours.”
Fred is preceded in death by his loving wife, Martha Cole. He is survived by his daughters Suzanne Cole Chavira and husband Steve Chavira of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Stephanie Cole and fiancé Michael Brandt of Decatur, Texas; Allison Cole of Palm Valley, Texas; and Elizabeth McCormick and husband Kelley McCormick of Harlingen, Texas. He also leaves behind the legacy of 6 grandchildren: Abigail Ortega and husband Sealtiel Ortega-Rodriguez, Elijah Chavira, Kiley Strain, Landrie Strain and fiancé Josh Branch, Grace McCormick, and Catherine McCormick. Fred was also the very proud great grandfather to Charlotte and Coraline Ortega. His memory lives on in the hearts of his loving brother Rex Cole, and sister-in-law Suzanne Patrick Cole, as well as his brother-in-law David McCall, and sister-in-law Carolyn McCall.
A memorial service will be held for Fred and Martha Cole on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (1417 E Austin Ave., Harlingen, TX). The service will be live-streamed as well. Honorary pallbearers are Robert Hatcher, Robert Dunkin, Jack Davis, Tom Lockhart, Adrian Duenez, and Robert Dwain Cannon. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.
Click the link below to view the memorial service via live-stream.
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St. Alban's Episcopal Church
1417 E. Austin Avenue, Harlingen TX 78550