Homer G. Cole, 94, of Pittsburg, passed away at 7:04 a.m. Friday, June 19, 2020 at Via Christi Hospital.
He was born September 25, 1925 at Jasper, Missouri, the son of Raymon Lafayette and Ina Louie (Hall) Cole. He attended Hawthorn Jr. High in Carthage before moving to Pittsburg and attending Roosevelt Jr. High. He graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1943. He started attending Kansas State Teacher’s College, now Pittsburg State University before being drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corp.
On November 28, 1948, he was united in marriage to Evelyn Marie Bennett at the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg. They were married 64 years. She preceded him in death on September 14, 2010.
Staff Sgt. Cole served with the 487th Bomb Group during World War II, flying 19 missions over Germany in his B-17 Flying Fortress. On April 10, 1945, his plane was nearly shot down, where flak went through his helmet and just nicked his skull. He and the other crew rigged a parachute out the back of the plane to stop it. Staff Sgt. Cole has a scarf which was made out of his parachute by an English woman. For his service, he earned the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Two Purple Hearts, Air Combat Medal, European-African-Middle East Campaign Medal and Air Medal with Three Oakleaf Clusters. One of his fondest memories was playing on the KOAM baseball team, where he played with the greats Mickey Mantle, Cloyd, Cletus and Ken Boyer and referring games with Don Gutteridge.
After returning home, he completed his college education. He played basketball at the university, and then moved to Goddard where he taught math and industrial arts, in addition to coaching basketball, football and baseball before moving back to Pittsburg to work for McNally’s. In 1954 he became the first Parks and Recreation Director for Joplin, Missouri where he worked until 1960. He then managed the Rangeline Bowlorama bowling alley in Joplin, and then managed alleys at Shawnee and Okmulgee, Oklahoma. On January 1, 1966, he and his partner, Ted Hoffman took over Holiday Lanes in Pittsburg. After five years, he and his wife, Evelyn became sole owners of the bowling alley, operating it until they sold out in December 1984.
Homer served on the Pittsburg City Commission from 1987 to 1991, including a term as mayor. He served on 12 boards, including PSU, the Elks Lodge, Mt. Carmel Hospital Board, and was President of Class Limited in Columbus. He was also the driving force in getting the Homer Cole Community Center built. Many will remember him for being an avid Pittsburg State Gorillas fan, and bowler. He also enjoyed playing cards and dominos.
Membership was held in the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg, where he also served as treasurer; lifetime member of the Pittsburg American Legion and VFW.
Survivors include a son, Michael Cole and his wife, Lori of Pittsburg; two daughters, Cathy Ann Cole of the home and Cindy Bugni and her husband, Charles of Frontenac; five grandchildren, Adam Cole, Courtney (Wes) Payne, Jennifer (Ira) Horyna, Chad (Melissa) Bugni, and Shawn (Haley) Bugni; 13 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, and 5 siblings, Charles Cole, James Cole, Geneva Roberts, Raymon Jr Cole, and Joanne Everett.
Services will be held at 1:30 PM Thursday (June 25) at the Brenner Mortuary with Pastor Rick Bartlett officiating. The eulogy will be given by Gene Bicknell. Burial will follow in the Garden of Memories Cemetery, where the US Army Air Corp will provide graveside military rites. The family will receive friends from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Thursday at the funeral home. The service will be live streamed on our website (brennermortuary.com) through Mr. Cole’s obituary page. The family suggests memorials be given to the Homer and Evelyn Cole Scholarship at PSU for the Boys Basketball program. These may be left at or mailed to the Brenner Mortuary, 114, E. 4th St., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Condolences may also be left online at www. brennermortuary.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary.
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