George A. Cole, 71, died of complications from acute myeloid leukemia on Nov. 14, 2014, in Bozeman with his family by his side. In recent years George and Susan, his wife of 49 years, lived in Bozeman and wintered in Sun City, Ariz.
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George Cole was born in Spokane, Wash., July 12, 1943, the son of Ruth (Connick) and Russell W. Cole. He grew up in Laurel, Mont. and graduated from Laurel High School in 1961. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science and history from the University of Montana in 1965. Additional graduate courses in journalism and international business were completed at the U of Montana and the University of San Diego.
Susan Bickell and George were married July 3, 1965 in Missoula, Susie's hometown. Three months following their college graduation, they volunteered as teachers with the U.S. Peace Corps in Malaysia.
During his professional career, George worked as a television/radio reporter and anchor, community college instructor, speech writer for Gov. Thomas Judge (Montana), and economic development advisor in California and for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. and San Diego with assignments in Mexico, Central and Latin America, and south Asia. His career included communication positions at San Diego State University, the Washington State Community College System, Spokane Falls Community College and Eastern Washington University. In Montana and Washington State, during his broadcast career, Cole hosted and produced over 300 biographical interviews.
George's company, Media West, Inc., focused on marketing and fundraising for non-profits. Clients included Washington State Dept. of Health, Spokane's Transit Authority and Riverfront Park, the City of Imperial Beach, the International Executive Service Corps, the SDSU Foundation, and Yellowstone Public Radio.
In 2000, George was named development director for Montana PBS, a statewide public television network. Five years later he was a development officer for Central Washington University in Ellensburg and Seattle.
Since his retirement in 2006, George's avocations included abstract art, sculpture work, writing and the interview program "Real Time" on Yellowstone Public Radio. In Arizona, he volunteered with the Phoenix Art Museum and the Arizona Talking Book Library.
Cole was an active contributor to communities throughout the Northwest. In the early 1970s, George, with the help of Susie and others, created KPBX-FM, Spokane's first public radio station. Initially staffed by some 75 volunteers, the ten-watt station was in the basement of their Spokane home. For decades Spokane Public Radio has been a major public radio voice in eastern Washington and northern Idaho.
Cole served nine years as a commissioner with the Spokane Housing Authority including three years as chair. He was a volunteer board member with the Washington State ACLU, Planned Parenthood of Spokane, and KSPS-Spokane Public Television. His books include "What to Do and Where to Go with Your Kids in Montana," "A Survival Guide for the Liberated Man," and "Little Dogs Talk" (an e-book). His articles have been published in regional magazines including Montana Quarterly and Montana Magazine.
George Cole won awards from the Chicago International Film Festival, the Greater Montana Foundation, the Washington State Governor's Award, a U.S. Presidential Commendation (for Susan and George's volunteer work on KPBX). He received the 2010 Cornerstone Award from the Bozeman Public Library Foundation.
In addition to Susie, George is survived by his daughter, Francine (Phil) Tageant of Ferndale, Wash.; and son, Spencer (Daisy Terrazas) Cole of Minneapolis. Other surviving family members are George's sister, Penny Achten of Spokane; four grandchildren, Melinda, Gillian, Halle' and Caelan Tageant of Ferndale; and several nieces and nephews.
An open celebration of George Cole's life will be held at a later date.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Yellowstone Public Radio, 1500 University Dr., Billings, MT 59101; Spokane Public Radio, 2319 North Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205; Friends of Montana PBS, P.O. Box 10715, Bozeman, MT 59719; or the Bozeman Public Library Foundation, 626 E. Main St., Bozeman, MT 59715.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19, 2014