Charles Evans Cole
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Charles Evans Cole

Charles Evans Cole, age 85, died 12/23/20 at his home in Santa Fe, NM. He was born in Denton, TX, the second of four children to R.L. and Corine Cole. His father was a grain dealer and his mother had taught school in Krum, TX. He grew up in Krum, and after receiving his elementary and junior high education in the Krum schools, went to Denton High School and was graduated in 1953. He received a B.A. in English cum laude at what is now the University of North Texas in 1957. In 1958 he married Clarice Smith from Abilene, TX, and together they moved to Connecticut, where he received a B.D. from Yale Divinity School in 1961. While a student there, he participated in early demonstrations against Woolworth's in solidarity with black students involved in sit-ins in the South. He received a master's degree in ethics from Perkins School of Theology, SMU, in 1965. He also studied at Vanderbilt University, Union Theological Seminary in New York, and Teachers College at Columbia University.

He worked in three national parks as a student in Christian Ministry in National Parks - Yellowstone, 1954, Bryce Canyon, 1957, and Rocky Mountain, 1965.

He was ordained in The Methodist Church in 1961 and served as pastor in Texas, 1961 - 1964.When he was associate pastor at Tyler Street Methodist Church in Dallas, the senior pastor of the church was charged with adultery, and he participated in a church trial that resulted in the suspension of the pastor. After leaving the pastorate, he became an editor of youth curriculum for the former Methodist Board of Education, Nashville, TN., where he served for from 1965 to 1969. He was fired from his job for editing materials considered too controversial for youth and surrendered his clergy credentials in order to continue working in publishing. His friends in the Methodist Board of Education asked him to continue to write curriculum materials for children, youth, and adults, which he did for several years.

After serving as the editor of juvenile books for a year in Aurora Publishing in Nashville, he became a staff member of the Vanderbilt University News Bureau. He was the managing editor of the journal Soundings while at Vanderbilt and also wrote and edited a newsletter for Fisk University.

From 1975 to 1977 he was editor for the American Association for State and Local History. He then rejoined the church, now the United Methodist Church after its union in 1968. He was an editor and writer with the church's Board of Higher Education and Ministry and became the first editor of the Quarterly Review, intended for clergy and other church professionals. In his capacity as an editor and writer, he travelled to China, Japan, England, Germany, France, and Mexico.

While in Nashville he was a founding member and chair of the Fair Housing Foundation, which advocated for open housing during a contentious period in the civil rights movement. He was a member of a citizen's organization promoting racial desegregation in public schools. He was also a founding member and chair of Woodmont East Neighbors, an organization that objected to an interstate highway being constructed in Nashville. He was a member of the mayor's sign committee, participated in the Democratic Party, and he was a Gary Hart delegate to the 1984 Democratic Convention, where he voted for Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman ever nominated for the vice presidency.

In 1986 he became a staff member of the General Board of Global ministries of The United Methodist Church, based in New York City. He was a writer, editor, and head of the communications unit. He and his wife retired in 1999 and moved to Santa Fe, NM. He continued working for the General Board of Global ministries as a consultant for several years, editing a seven-volume History of Mission of The United Methodist Church.

In Santa Fe he was active in several organizations, including Interfaith Immigrant Allies, the Interfaith Community Shelter, Interfaith Worker Justice, and the Interfaith Coalition on Public School Education. He was coordinator of a Faith Conference on Nuclear Weapons in 2010. He held several positions in St John's United Methodist Church and was elected as a jurisdictional delegate from the New Mexico Conference in 2008. From 2009-2012 he was a board member of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, based in Washington, D.C.

He was a lifelong runner, participating in several marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He was a hiker and climber and once solo-climbed Mt Wilson, a fourteen-thousand-foot peak in Colorado. He was also a gardener, a lover of opera and classical music, and an admirer of contemporary visual art.

He is survived by his wife, Clarice, three sons and one daughter-in-law, Ralph Cole, Montrose, CO.; David Cole, Kingwood, TX.; Stephen and Gabriel Cole, Maryville, TN.;three grandchildren, Katie, Carmella, and Lauren Cole; a sister and brother-in-law, Janice and John Callarman, Krum, TX.; a sister-in-law, Margaret Cole, Denton, TX.; two neices, five nephews and several cousins, great-neices, and great-nephews.

A service of Christian celebration will be held at St John's United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, at a later date. The family requests that memorial gifts be made to St John's United Methodist Church, designated for Shared ministries, the connectional mission fund of The United Methodist Church.

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Published in Denton Record-Chronicle on Dec. 30, 2020.
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March 14, 2021
Dear Ralph& family, my deepest sympathy. May God give u peace. Sincerely, Polly Tarter Mathews
Polly Mathews
December 30, 2020
Charles was one of the most brilliant minds I knew. He had a heart for social justice and put his feet to his passions. I had many fruitful theological conversation with Charles and Clarice. I remember him fondly and he is already missed. Blessings to Clarice and family as we grieve together with hope and faith.
Jonette Gay
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