Walter Cole went to be with his Lord early Wednesday morning, March 1, 2012, at the age of 92. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family, at the Bozeman Health and Rehab Center where he had been since October. In the few short months he was there, he became beloved by both the staff and fellow residents.
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Walter was born Nov. 15, 1919, in Manhattan, Mont., to Simon and Martha Cole, the third of four sons. In October 1942, he was enlisted in the Army during World War II, as a baker, and served in Tunisia, Rome, and Northern Africa until he was discharged in October 1945. He was awarded the European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Upon his return to the Manhattan farm of his father, he married Nellie Feddes, whom was employed by his parents in their home. They had their first date on the eve of his induction, and had a courtship through several years of letters, while he was overseas. They were married on Feb. 5, 1946. They first lived in the small teacherage of the Baker School, and then moved to the farmhouse where he was raised and Nellie had been employed. They were married for 65 years, until Nellie preceded him in death, seven months earlier. He took over the family farm with his brothers, raising cattle, sheep, grain and potatoes. Over the years, the four brothers expanded and separated their properties. Walter remained on the original family farm.
Walter loved working his land and raising his family along with Nellie. They raised three children, Marlene, Stuart, and Norma. After his retirement, he loved tending to his flower gardens.
Walter and Nellie were charter members of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church on Churchill.
Walter is survived by his children, Marlene (Harv) Te Slaa, Stuart, and Norma (Gary) Bekker, and Gary Thompson, who was like a son to him; six grandchildren, Jason (Kristy) Te Slaa, Nathan Te Slaa, Michelle (Brent ) Nibbelink, Tammy (Doug) Gorter, Patrick (Peggy) Bekker, and Lisa (Scott) Boone; eight great-grandchildren; brother, Bernard (Pearl) Cole; brother-in-law, Marvin (Nell) Feddes; and widowed sisters-in-law, Sally Cole, Rolena Vehuizen, and Alyce Finch.
Walter was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Nellie; two brothers, and his parents.
The family expresses special appreciation to their parents' previous caretaker, Christine, and to the Hospice of Southwest Montana and the Bozeman Health and Rehab Center for their dedicated love and care that they gave to Walter.
A graveside service will be held at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 3, in Churchill Cemetery, followed by a memorial service at Bethel Christian Reformed Church on Churchill at 4 p.m.
Donations in memory of Walter may be made to the Bozeman Deaconess Foundation, 931 Highland Blvd. Ste. 3200, Bozeman, MT 59715 with Hospice in the memo line; and to Christian Reformed World Missions, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave. S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49560.
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 on Mar. 2, 2012