Thomas Cole

All who knew Thomas “Adorable” Cole would agree that he was the heartbeat of wherever he was. He was vibrant and spunky with just the right amount of wit thrown in, and his zest for life was truly contagious to all who were near. Tom was the sort of guy who fit in wherever he went, and because he was accepting, respectful, and down to earth, he had the ability to diffuse any type of situation and a way of making others feel at ease. A devoted father, he was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he effortlessly made each of his grandchildren feel as though they were his favorite. Life will never be the same without Tom here, but the lives of countless others will be forever changed because of his touch.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young servicemen and women were serving while those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods such as coffee, rubber, tin, and sugar. It was during this eventful time that Alden and Marie (Miller) Cole were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as the heat of the summer held the city of Waverly, New York, firmly in its grip in 1942. The big day finally arrived on August 10th when the baby boy they named Thomas A. drew his first breath. He was the the younger of two children in his family as he was raised alongside his sister, Mary Lou. When he was about one year old, the Cole family moved to East Lansing where he was a bat boy for the Michigan State University baseball team. This suited his parents fine as they had both graduated from MSU.
In many ways Tom was a young boy of his generation. His father was an auctioneer who also represented a feed company that sold their products to dairy farmers. As a result, Tom’s father traveled all over and later transferred to the Richland area. There, his mother was a kindergarten teacher. From an early age, Tom developed a passion for sports. He was also a talented athlete as he excelled as a guard in basketball. It has also been said that Tom “never saw a shot he didn’t like” as he was an amazing shooter, especially when it came to shooting from the outside. In East Lansing, Tom was part of the state championship team. During his freshman year they moved to Richland, and Tom attended local schools, graduating from Richland Agricultural High School in 1960, which was later known as Gull Lake High School. Some of his best lifelong friends were friends who he met during his formative years with some of his best buddies being from East Lansing.
Many of Tom’s lifelong passions were established during his formative years. He loved cars, car racing, and muscle cars, and he was the speaker announcer at racetracks in both Stanton and at the US 131 Dragway. As a high school student, he started washing cars, and he fell in love with muscle cars. This was the seed that later grew into a successful and rewarding career. Although he started out washing cars, Tom later got into sales and then became an owner and founder of Cole Auto Group. He had a passion for his work and loved nothing more than serving his customers well. Tom came into the office everyday, sometimes taking his dog with him, and he always treated his staff well, too. He loved having people come into his office, and he was thrilled to have his son, Tim, work with him, although he saw to it that Tim earned his keep! Tom’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed, either, as he was named Time Magazine Dealer of the Year in 2014.
Although his work was a vital part of his life, Tom treasured his family above all else. He was blessed with three children altogether including Kimberly, Kristy, and Tim. Tom also treasured his friends, and as his family and friends can attest, he was a true dog lover. He owned many Springers through the years including his most recent dog, Tag, who he always called his number one son – usually with his son, Tim, in the room! For a time Tom also had harness race horses and after researching how to breed them for a few decades, he did that, too. Whether his family, his friends, his animals, or his business, it was really all intermixed to him, and Tom loved them all like family. He was thrilled to be a grandfather, and spending time with his grandchildren was a favorite. Tom treasured nothing more than covering them with abundant amounts of unconditional love. A people person, he was genuinely interested in getting to know others, and he never could resist a beautiful woman.
A longtime member of the community he loved, Tom was someone whom everyone seemed to know. He was an avid supporter of WMU, and for years he assisted with cars for the coaches. Tom frequently spoke his mind with the coaches and at the games as he had no problems telling the basketball coach, Hawk, who was also a good friend, how he could do a better job if he were the coach! Of course this was always followed up with a smile. Tom was the founder of Touchdown for Diabetes and hosted events at the dealership. He was always extremely generous and was the ultimate deal maker and negotiator. Tom had an irreverent sense of humor and could turn everything into a joke.
The sort of person who could take everything in stride, Thomas Cole was truly one of a kind. He valued all people, important or not, and he saw rules and laws more as guidelines. A snappy dresser, Tom accomplished great things, but he was a humble man whose priority was to help others. Comfortable in his own skin, he held nothing back in life or in love, and his willpower was truly inspiring. A devoted father and grandfather, Tom cherished his family. He leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will forever treasure.
Thomas A. “Adorable” Cole, of Kalamazoo, died on September 6, 2015, at Borgess Medical Center, Kalamazoo. Tom’s family includes his 3 children: Kimberly Cole (Ron Hasty), Kristy (Craig) Carter and Tim (Tina) Cole; 4 grandchildren: Alison and Jake Carter and Hunter and Connor Cole; sister, Mary Lou Kuhn; nieces and nephews: Mike Kuhn (Angie), Kerri (Scott) Carl and Cindy (Kevin) Hackert; and his faithful companion, “Tag”. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Thursday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900. Services will be Friday 5:00 p.m. at Kalamazoo First Assembly of God Church, followed by a reception in the church hall. Private burial will take place at Prairie Home Cemetery, Richland. Please visit Tom’s personal memory page where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Touchdown for Diabetes.