Lieutenant Colonel David Paul Cole, U.S. ARMY (Ret), 89, of Norwalk, CT, died on July 11 after a brief illness, at home with Donna Lynne, his beloved wife, and Dana Nellie, his youngest daughter, at his side.
Born on July 10, 1932, in Pittsburgh, PA, to James Altman Cole and Joan Burrell Biesecker, Lt. Col. Cole attended Peabody High School and went on to matriculate at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. In February 1954, he married Sandra Moore, of Pittsburgh, with whom he had five daughters: Cynthia, Karen, Kimberly, Kristen, and Heather.
Lt. Col. Cole was drafted into the U.S. Army in July 1953. He attended the U.S. Army Infantry School, Officer Candidate School, Basic Airborne School, Ranger School, U.S. Army Special Warfare School, Special Forces Officer School, 7th Special Forces Group Airborne Jumpmaster School, Special Information Course for Reserve Component Officers, Defense Language Institute English Language Center Norwegian Language Course, and the Defense Language Institute Vietnamese Course. With particular pride, while stationed with the 10th Special Forces at Bad Tolz, Germany, he delivered a commencement speech in Norwegian to the Norwegian cadets.
Wounded on November 20, 1963, in Vietnam, Lt. Col. Cole was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. In addition, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Master Parachute Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Ranger Tab, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960 Device, Vietnam Civic Action Medal, 1st Class Vietnam Jump Wings, and Cambodian Jump Wings.
In 1979, Lt. Col. Cole married Donna Lynne Palmer, a nurse from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, with whom he had his sixth daughter, Dana Nellie. Donna devoted her life to David, supporting his civilian career and his participation in various military organizations.
Since retiring from the Army, Lt. Col. Cole was continuously active in a wide array of Veteran affairs and community service. He held elected office and was appointed to various municipal commissions in Norwalk, and, without exception, rose to chairman of all his community endeavors. He served as a Commissioner on the Zoning Commission and was later elected to the Board of Education. A lifetime member of the NAACP, he worked tirelessly to break down barriers towards education for minorities. He was also a strong advocate for the advancement and protection of programs for academically/artistically talented students. His focus was always about providing the best learning experience for all students in the district. He also passionately fought for the rights of the disabled. For many years as a proud patriotic veteran, Lt. Col. Cole continued his association with the 7th Special Forces Group. He ran the Memorial Day Parade in Norwalk for ten years and served as Chairman of the Norwalk Veterans Memorial Committee for several terms. Lt. Col. Cole was selected to be the Parade Marshall for the 350th Anniversary Parade in Norwalk. He was a lifelong member and former Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the 82nd Airborne Division Association in Hartford, CT. One of his greatest honors was being inducted as a member of the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, Class of 2018.
While residing in MA in the late 1960s, Lt. Col. Cole became a dedicated Boston Celtics and Red Sox fan; however, he remained ever loyal to the Pittsburgh Steelers. For more than twenty years, he, Donna, and Nellie have been active supporters of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team. Lt. Col. Cole loved his country, his community, and above all, his family. He welcomed family and friends into his home on many occasions, especially Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday. His many interests included community leadership, music across all genres, portrait painting, history, politics, language, Broadway musicals, and picnics with family and friends, notably at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA, one of his favorite places on earth. From 9-10 pm each weeknight, he discouraged calls, because “Shhh, I’m listening to Rachel (Maddow).” He was fondly referred to as “The Colonel” by his daughters.
David is remembered with love by his devoted wife, Donna, and his six daughters and their spouses and partners, Cynthia Sikorski (Richard); Karen Hall (Tom); Kimber Moore (Peter); Kristen Cole (Donald); Heather Hill (Mark), and his youngest daughter, Dana Nellie. He leaves behind his ten adored grandchildren, Justin Milan, Kyle, Emily, Ali, David, Kasey, Joshua, Michael, Marilynn, and Zackary along with five cherished great-grandchildren, Kaia, Juniper, Logan, Liam, and Eloise, as well as nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Marion Kathleen, who died in infancy, and Jeanne Louise Becht, and brother-in-law, John Becht.
Family and friends are invited to a visitation on Sunday, July 18, from 3-5 pm, with a memorial service to follow, at Magner Funeral Home, 12 Mott Avenue, Norwalk, CT.
Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the scholarship fund at Western Connecticut Military Officers Association (wcmoa.org) or for books to be donated to a high school of their choice in Lt. Col. Cole’s memory.