Seymour (Sy) Benjamin Cole
Sy was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1923, to Louis and Margaret (Levy) Cohen. He was the youngest of three boys.
After graduating Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, he enlisted in the US Army Signal Corp. He attended Signal Corp School in New York to be trained as an Instrument Technician and Signal Corp Operator, learning to repair all of the damaged parts of army tanks, planes, radios and other necessary instruments of war. He was with European Theater of Operations (ETO) in London. He then went on to be stationed in France and Belgium, where he learned to speak fluent French, and used it his entire life. After three years of serving in WW II, he entered Delehanty Institute to continue his training in electronics.
In 1946, he married Rhoda Bachman, the love of his life, and began his journey down to Florida to follow his brother who had started an electronics business. Sy was a pioneer in the early days of radio and television. He would advertise in the Palm Beach Post inviting all to come to his house to see the first color television. He worked six days a week and made house calls! He could take apart and put back together an entire TV set.
After owning two retail stores selling and repairing the most up-to-date TV's and radios, Sy entered into the real estate world, again being a pioneer in building strip malls, the first being on Okeechobee Blvd near the turnpike. There was nothing east of the turnpike in those days and some thought he was crazy to invest in the wilderness so far away.
His passion was music, and as a self taught singer, drummer, and organist, he was a natural entertainer and once even had his own band. He always thought that his purpose in life was to make people laugh and was the consummate host and life of the party. The pinnacle of his singing career is when he performed two solos in the Palm Beach Follies at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse with George Hamilton.
The Jewish community, both Temple Emanuel and Temple Beth El, became a big part of the Cole's lives. Sy, having a distinguished vocal range, sang in the choir in the early days of Beth El, and has spent many Friday Shabbats singing the Kiddish since that time. He created The Supper Club, which was a communal cooking and entertainment event for members. He was President of the Men's Club for over ten years at Temple Emanuel in Palm Beach. Sy developed the Cantorial Concert, providing many evenings of entertainment for the Jewish community. Sy was also instrumental in founding the Sy and Rhoda Cole Theater at Temple Beth El showing Jewish films and theater content programs.
Sy was a renaissance man who, after learning the Apple Macintosh computer, used his skill to design all Temple bulletins and program literature. He then started tutoring in private lessons so that a whole new generation could become computer literate. He had many other hobbies and became known as the 'Button Man', creating buttons for all occasions. He decided to learn how to adapt watches customized with individual pictures. A man of many creative talents!
Sy and Rhoda were married for 74 years before she passed away in January, 2021. Above all he cherished his role as a stupendous Dad and Papa. He is survived by four children: Aaron Cohen (Jeff Greathouse) of LA, Barbara Cole Lee (Jonathan Lee) of Boston and Aspen, Sharon Beck (Barry Beck) of Danvers, MA, and Marcy Cole of LA. He will be missed by his 5 grandchildren: Jason Beck (Debra), Jodi Harold (Adam), Stacey Beck, Suzanna Lee, Alex Lee (Margi Dashevsky). In addition, he was lucky enough to know his 5 great-grandchildren: Jonah, Aria, Molly, Lily, and Gillian.
Sy was loved by so many and brought so much joy to all he touched. May his memory be a blessing and may he rest in peace with his Rhoda.
Northwood Funeral Home is preparing the graveside service at Royal Palm Memorial Gardens on Thursday April 8, 2021. A virtual Shiva Zoom will be hosted by Temple Beth El on Thursday at 7:00 pm.
Published in The Palm Beach Post from Apr. 7 to Apr. 8, 2021.