In 2 Samuel 3:38, when David spoke of the death of Abner, he said, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" I am writing this article to announce to our readers that on Sunday, July 18, another "Ab" - a prince and a great man in the church - died in the Lord. His name was Albert Ray "Ab" Cole. The following obituary was read at brother Cole's memorial services by brother Mike Reese at the Mannington church of Christ building on Wednesday, July 21.
"Albert Ray 'Ab' Cole, 83, of Mannington passed away Sunday (July 18, 2004) at his residence. He was born January 28, 1921 at Hope Hill in Rachel. He was the son of the late Ira W. Cole and Fanny C. Dent Cole. He married Phyllis Jean Toothman Cole on January 28, 1943 and (they) shared a life together for 61 years. He served as an elder for the Mannington church of Christ and preached the Gospel on several occasions at nearby congregations. He retired from Phillips Tool Company of Mannington and also worked for First Exchange Bank of Mannington during his retirement. He served his country in the U.S. Army Armored Force Division during World War II.
"Among his many talents and accomplishments, Ab was a licensed pilot and auctioneer. He spent several years traveling around the United States building church buildings for Continental Church Builders. Ab was a talented musician and comedian, performing with Stoney and Wilma Lee Cooper and the Clinch Mountain Clan throughout the northeastern United States and Canada. He performed several times on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. He was president of the Country Music Concert Association and also conducted a country-western music program on Saturday mornings on WMMN Fairmont where he was best known as 'The Plum Run Redhead.' Ab enjoyed woodworking, music, and hunting.
"In addition to his wife, Jean, he is survived by his son, Merle 'Pete' Cole and wife, Pamela Cheryl Cole, of Smithfield; a granddaughter, Christy Anne Swick and husband, Shane Swick, of Fairmont; a grandson, Peter Ray Cole and wife, Amantha Cole, of Fairview; two great-grandchildren, Joslyn and Gabriel Swick; a sister, Bethel Yost Lough of Mannington; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by brothers Glen Cole, Carl Cole, and Charles Cole."
When we began publishing the West Virginia Christian, in 1993, brother Ab Cole was one of our strongest encouragers. He was also one of the first ones along with Warren Kenney to encourage us to begin conducting an annual lectureship in conjunction with the paper. Our first lectureship, in 2000, was overseen by the Mannington church of Christ elders and directed by brother Mike Reese. The theme was "Thus Saith The Lord." It was a wonderful beginning.
A quote from "A Statement From The Elders" in that first lectureship book set the tone: "Woe to this crooked and perverse generation whose children devour one another with their words, knives, and guns; who have no respect for the powers over them, for each other, or even themselves. We of the 'Churches of Christ' firmly believe the answer to this country's woes is a return to a 'Thus Saith The Lord!' God's word has all the answers if we will but humble ourselves and submit to His Will that is plainly taught in the Bible."
We thank God for the life of Ab Cole. We rejoice in his hope in the Lord. Our sincere Christian sympathies and prayers are offered for his wife, Jean, and all of his family. His son, Merle "Pete," is an elder at Mannington, and his grandson, Peter Ray, is the preacher at the Washington Street church of Christ, Fairview, WV.