Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Victor Arthur Cole 1912-1971

"The Life of Victor Arthur COLE 1912-1971"
by his daughter, Mary Kay COLE Ward.

The following article is authored and submitted by Mary Kay COLE WARD ( ) in October 2003.

Victor A. COLE was born about 1912 in Painesville, Lake county, Ohio and died at the age of 60 in Miami, Florida on 22 Sep 1971. He was the youngest of the five sons of William Barrett COLE and Mary STOWE SHEPARD, widow of Clarence SHEPARD. The children of Wm. Barrett COLE and Mary STOWE SHEPARD of Painesville, Lake county Ohio were:

1. Gilbert Stowe COLE b. 18 Mar 1895 in Painesville, Lake Co., OH who married Ruth FERGUSON with whom he had 3 sons and a daughter. Both Gilbert and his wife died in their early 30's within a year and a half of each other leaving their four children as orphans.

2. William Alfred COLE born 19 Feb 1897 in Painesville, Lake Co., Ohio married Mildred MEREDITH with whom he had 2 sons. His son, Wm Alfred COLE, Jr died March 1945 in WW II a pilot flying out of Hawaii leaving a young wife who was expecting their baby daughter.

3. David Barrett COLE born Sep 1898 in Lake Co., OH married Ruby BARNES with whom he had 2 sons.

4. Kenneth Roosevelt COLE born 1901 in Lake Co., OH married. Helen FOSHAY with whom he had a son. Kenneth and Helen both died in California.

5. Victor Arthur COLE born 1912 in Painesville, Lake Co.,OH married Mary Elizabeth CARTER, daughter of Simeon CARTER and Nettie RIPPIN.

Victor COLE's half-brother Clarence "Shep" SHEPARD was born to the first marriage of his mother, Mary STOWE. "Shep" was born June 1888 and he married 11 Jan 1915 Margaret E. COLE with whom he had five daughters. He was William Barrett Cole's step-son and was indispensible to the COLE nursery business.

Victor COLE's father, William Barrett COLE, had started in the nursery business with his step-father, Reverend Luther R. JAYNE and founded the "COLE Nursery" in Lake County. It became one of the largest nurseries in the United States in the early 1900's, a business in which all of his sons worked and the 4 oldest became officers. Victor's mother, Mary STOWE COLE died 10 Nov, 1917 when he was 6 years old and he was raised by his step-mother, Fannie DANN who married Victor's father 2 February, 1921 in Painesville, Lake county, Ohio.

Victor's oldest brother, Gilbert COLE was a tireless worker his father's nursery business. Victor's brother Alfred COLE had horses and fancy cars; was a well-known horseman and polo expert. His horse named "Sky Line Tommy" became famous. Victor's brother, Kenneth COLE and his wife, Inez lived in Kirtland, Ohio for awhile. Later they lived in Cleveland, Ohio where Kenneth owned an aviation school on Mayfield Road or in Mayfield Heights and taught flying lessons. Kenneth COLE was a pilot who went to the same flight school in the Army air corps as Charles Lindbergh.

Later Kenneth & his wife lived for many years in Santa Monica California.

After their father died in 1932, Victor's brother, D. "Barrett" COLE took over the nursery business, in the heart of the depression when nothing was working. He ran the "Cole Nursery" for the rest of his life and became quite wealthy after many years of hard work. He had bought a large yacht and was cruising it from Lake Erie down the inland waterway when he had a massive heart attack and died in June of 1968. Barrett's son was level headed and continued to run the nursery on a reduced level for most of his life. He moved the business to Circleville, Ohio.

Victor COLE met Mary Elizabeth CARTER at Harvey High School in Painesville, Ohio and they were married 16 Jun 1933 in Painesville. Their first child, a son, was born 25 February 1934 in Painesville, Ohio. He set a record as the longest baby born there as of that date and he grew to 6 ft 4 inches tall as an adult. A year later a daughter, Mary Kathleen COLE was born 8 May 1953 in Meadville, Crawford county, Pennsylvania while Victor worked in the Talon zipper factory. That year Victor moved his family four times and two years later on 20 March 1937 a daughter who was born in Painesville, Lake county, Ohio.

By 1938, at the age of 26 Victor A. COLE had decided to leave Painesville, Ohio for Florida. Driving a 1934 Ford stake-bed truck loaded with a horse, a pony, chickens and his other belongings, he drove without stopping overnight, while his 3 year old daughter, Mary Kathleen slept on the seat beside him and his son slept on the floor-boards. All of the chickens drown in a thunderstorm during the trip. His wife, Mary Elizabeth CARTER and their baby remained in Painesville and joined him later. He intended to become a truck farmer but natural disasters had devastated the truck farming business so instead he started a landscape gardening business in the Miami area, propagating his own plants from cuttings.

By 1940 his first marriage had failed. His wife Mary CARTER COLE had moved back to Painesville, Ohio with the three young children and Mary and Victor COLE were divorced. With their mother unable to support them, Victor's two daughter's ages 3 and 5 were sent to St. John's Orphanage in Painesville, Ohio and were cared for by the Episcopal Nuns until their mother remarried in 1944.

Their young son stayed with his mother and her parents in Painesville, Ohio until Mary decided to send him to live in Florida with his father. Thus in 1942, a frightened eight year old boy was put aboard a train alone, told "not to cry" and began a traumatic trip to Florida on a train loaded with soldiers at the start of World War II. Carter was greeted at the train station in Washington, DC. by friends of his mother's and then continued the journey to Florida alone. He was met at the train station in Miami by his father, Victor and his fiance, Myra LARCHE BOTNER. The son worked in his father's business until he left home at the age of 17; later serving in the U. S. Marine Corps.

Victor COLE married his second wife, Myra LARCHE BOTNER about 1944 in Miami Florida. She had a daughter by her first marriage and together they had a son born about 1945.

In 1947 Victor and Myra COLE opened "Cole's Flower Shop" on Biscayne Boulevard which they operated together for about 20 years. At one time during those years Victor COLE ran four florist shops in the Miami, Coral Gables area, including one in the Nieman Marcus department store. In 1949, Victor's youngest daughter, now 12 years old, was sent from Painesville, Ohio to live with her father. She lived in Miami with the family and worked in the florist shop until she graduated from high school and returned to Painesville, Ohio. She grew to be a strikingly beautiful six foot tall lady.

Victor Cole was a member of Selective Service Board 156 during World War II and remained on the board until about 1968. He served for a time as president of the Dade County Civic Forum and was active in the Miami Exchange Club and the Small Business Association of Miami. He was also a director of the Flamingo Dinner Club and a member of the Greater Miami and Florida florists associations. He was a conservative Republican and for a time served on Republican Executive Committee of Dade County.

In 1964 he opposed Sen. Robert Haverfield for Florida's District 41 Senate seat. His campaign slogan was "a businessman for a businesslike job." Mr. Cole supported Florida governor Claude Kirk's war on crime, opposed new taxes and favored an appointed cabinet, a revised constitution, favorable industrial climate, daylight saving time. But Victor lost the election. Haverfield won with 71,882 votes to Mr. COLE's 47,374.

In 1969, Victor COLE was co-chairman of Dade county's chapter of the Movement to Restore Decency (MOTOREDE), a national organization connected with the John Birch Society. As spokesman, for MOTOREDE, Mr. Cole said "sex education in the schools is part of an over-all scheme promoted by the Communists and socialists: to undermine the morality of America's youth."

It was about this time that the family moved to a new home at 12700 SW 56 St. Ft. Lauderdale and Victor's wife Myra fell critically ill, went into kidney failure and died unexpectedly.

In 1971, suffering from heart disease and having been told he needed heart surgery, Victor took a trip by car around the country, visiting family and friends. He returned home to Miami, where died following surgery at Miami Heart Institute on Wednesday, 22 September 1971. His funeral was held two days later at 11 a.m. Friday, November 24th, in the Van Orsdel Northside Chapel 3333 NE. 2nd Avenue and he was buried in the Woodlawn Park cemetery, Miami, Dade co, Florida.

At the time of Victor's death he was survived by two sons, two daughters, a step daughter and his brother Kenneth R. Cole. He had eleven grandchildren.

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Last updated 21 Oct 2003

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© 2003 Cynthia Turk. All rights reserved.