Cole, Tom C.
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76, of Yuma, AZ passed away on January 23, 2014. The life of Tom C. Cole was decorated with many honors and achievements, and each of those successes were built on an unwavering faith in God faith and rooted in family bonds and cherished friendships. He passed away at his home on January 23, 2014, and those who knew him are mourning the loss. Tom's roots in the Yuma area went deep. He was born Sept. 13, 1937, in Somerton, Ariz., and spent his early years there before his family moved to Bard, Calif. He attended Yuma High School, graduating in 1955. A brief stint at the University of Arizona followed, but he decided to return home. It only took one hot Yuma summer working as an iron worker to lead Tom back to school. He accepted a football scholarship to Brigham Young University where he enjoyed the cooler weather of Provo, Utah. He made his way back to the University of Arizona for law school before coming home to Yuma for good in 1963.
Tom's law career started with Westover, Copple, Keddie and Choules where he became a partner in 1966. He later served as a partner with the firm of Rolle, Jones, Benton and Cole before starting his own practice. In 1991, Arizona Gov. Rose Mofford appointed Tom to the Superior Court bench in Yuma County. In 1997 the Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court appointed him presiding judge of the Yuma County Superior Court, and in 1999 colleagues elected him president of the Arizona Judges Association. He served on the bench until his retirement in 2007. While on the bench, Tom saw many lives torn apart by drug addiction. His compassion led him to establish the Adult Drug Court program in Yuma County. The program has been credited with restoring many lives. Tom remained in contact with several Drug Court graduates and their families until his death. In 2004, he became only the second judge inducted into the Arizona Drug Court Hall of Fame. Tom was relentless in his study and preparation for every case he handled, but the law was just a small part of his life. His Christian faith was evident not just in the worn Bible he kept close but his willingness to give of himself. He loved to fish, spending many happy days on the ocean seeking a good catch and good conversation with fellow fishermen. He also loved to travel with his wife, Pam, whether it was a weekend drive around local lettuce fields or an adventurous road trip through Leadville, Colo. No matter the roads he traveled, he always came home. Not even summer breezes at the family condominium in San Diego could keep him away from Yuma for long. What Tom treasured most in life was his family and friends. His phone and doorbell rang often with those looking to share stories or gather sage advice. He never turned anyone away, whether it was a younger sister looking for help with the prom, daughters seeking guidance, a school friend with new vacation pictures or a nephew telling stories of the latest hunt. Tom was always anxious to share his time. The number of lives he touched are far too many to count, and Tom will be missed throughout the community that he was deeply proud to call his home.
Tom is survived by his wife Pam; sister Susie Tandy and her husband Skip of Mapleton, Utah; daughters Toby Kerman of Henderson, Nev., and Cheryl Rademacher and her husband Kevin of Snoqualmie, Wash.; three grandchildren, three nephews and countless extended family. He was preceded in death by his sons Brent Thomas Cole and Scott Benton Cole. Services will be held February 1, 2014 3:00pm at United Methodist Church 298 W 3rd Street, Yuma, AZ. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are suggested to Hospice of Yuma, 1824 S. 8th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364
Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 26, 2014