Longtime Kasilof resident Mr. Lyle Douglas Cole, 84, died Monday, March 9, 2015 at Leah and Bob Handley’s home, where he was being lovingly cared for.
A memorial mass is 1 p.m. Thursday, March 12, 2015, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 222 W. Redoubt Ave., Soldotna. A reception will follow the services at the church.
Lyle was born Nov. 22, 1930, in Kasilof to Milton and Marion Cole at the fox farm established by his grandparents Perry and Lillian Cole at what is now the Pollard’s place. As a result of the rapid decline of the fox fur industry, and because his mother didn’t like living in Alaska, his parents moved with Lyle and his sister Ramona back to their original home in Alder Creek, N.Y. in 1932. His sister Jetty was born in New York and in 1936 the family moved to San Fernando, Calif., where his brother Russell was born.
Lyle graduated from high school in San Fernando in 1948. In 1949 he and a friend drove up the Alaska Highway in a 1929 Chevy with a homemade tent trailer. In 1950-51 he worked at Libby’s Cannery in Kenai and was engineer on the power scow Beaver, skippered by his uncle, Comer Cole. In 1951 he was drafted into the Army and sent to fight in Korea, where he was shot by a sniper, almost killing him. At the age of 84 he finally received his Purple Heart in the mail but didn’t bother to open it up. He survived serious injuries which resulted in permanent damage to his right arm.
After his recovery and discharge from the Army, he attended the University of Alaska in Fairbanks for two years and then went on to the University of Washington, where he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. His heart was still in Alaska and he returned to live there permanently. He worked at the Kenai Wards Cove Cannery in the summers and in 1962 built his own house and shop by the Kasilof River in Kasilof, and resided there the rest of his life.
He was caretaker at the Kasilof Cemetery for many years and was proud of the appearance that he was able to maintain there. He belonged to the Chevy Corvair Club and worked on many of them as well as other car projects over the years, always designing and modifying cars.
He loved music and played various types of guitars and practiced daily. He enjoyed making trips to visit family in California, Oregon, Washington and Canada, and also seeing the many friends he had made over the years.
Lyle was a lifelong bachelor and is survived by his sisters, Ramona Mathews of Sweet Home, Ore., and Jetty Morton of Suquamish, Wash.; brother, Russell (Frances) Cole of Kensington, Prince Edward Island, Canada, as well as many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Leprosy Missions, One ALM Way, Greenville, SC 29601.
Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel & Crematory. Please view Lyle’s online guestbook at AlaskanFuneral.com.