Martha Elizabeth McCall Cole, a longtime resident of Harlingen, Texas, passed away in the early morning hours of January 12, 2022 after a short illness. Martha moved gently into the arms of her Savior while surrounded by her loving family members, who had been holding vigil at her bedside for the duration of her sickness. In her final days, Martha comforted her family greatly with her prayers of gratitude to God for a life filled with love and countless blessings.
Born in Corpus Christi on April 27, 1941, Martha moved to San Benito as a young child, then on to Harlingen at age 8. A tomboy at heart, Martha was always good-natured with a great sense of humor, making friends wherever she went while still beating the boys at burnout. She loved playing bridge and mentoring younger students, and from an early age, she saw the best in others, believing all people to be as good and kind as she. This would be a habit she maintained until the end of her earthly life.
Always having an interest in science and excelling academically, Martha attended Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College (now Texas State University) and obtained a pre-med degree, which she would go on to use in the medical technology field. She remained passionate about science and medicine her entire life. However, she would eventually set her medical career to the side as she began her life with her husband of 48 years, Fred L. Cole, Jr. Just as she did all things, she wholeheartedly put herself into working with Fred and the two built together a wonderful life filled with beautiful children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, hard work, world travel, countless laughs, and lots of dancing (even in the kitchen).
Martha’s contagious energy and zest for life benefitted countless organizations and groups in her community, including the Harlingen Junior League, the St. Alban’s school board, St. Alban’s Vestry and Altar Guild, Daughters of the King, and many more. She loved Jazzercise and made countless workout buddies that still remember her smile and laugh. Her true love was always helping in any way she could at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, where she and Fred were lifelong members. Martha also loved South Padre Island where they had a condo, and from her earliest years as a newlywed, looked forward to escaping with Fred to their “happy place.”
Of all the activities and causes she loved, however, the core of Martha’s heart was always centered on her family, especially her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The Bible says that children are a reward from God and, in this way, her life was truly rich. Martha would spend several days every week with her children and grandchildren who lived locally, and always looked forward every year to the family reunion held on the Island.
Additionally, Martha and Fred welcomed an extended network of young people into their home over the years. Whether they stayed for a short time or for years, these visitors to the Cole home became real members of the family. Martha held them all dearly in her heart and thus impacted countless lives and generations with her maternal love.
Martha is survived by her husband, Fred L. Cole, Jr. of Harlingen, as well as her children: 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; and Elizabeth McCormick and husband Kelley McCormick of Harlingen, Texas. She 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. Martha was also the very proud great grandmother to Charlotte and Coraline Ortega. Her memory lives on in the hearts of her loving brother, David McCall, and sister-in-law, Carolyn McCall, as well as her brother-in-law Rex Cole and sister-in-law Suzanne Patrick Cole.
Martha was an ever-present source of joy, always ready with her signature smile and contagious laughter. She made everyone feel like a friend, and took every opportunity to dance, laugh, and hug. She was the embodiment of joy and lived her life that way. While we will miss her greatly, we look forward to a day of reunion with her within the gates of Heaven, and know her laughter and love live on within each of us, every day.
A memorial service will be held for 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 Carol Mayfield, Linda Broyles, Ann Dunkin, Carol Hatcher, Diane Wittenbach, Sandra Guerrero, and Sandie Young. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.
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St. Alban's Episcopal Church
1417 E. Austin Avenue, Harlingen TX 78550