John W. Cole, age 83 passed away Saturday morning, November 21, 2020 at the St. Francis Hospice House in Indianapolis. He was a resident of Martinsville.
John was born August 29, 1937 in Sullivan, to the late Frank W. and Clona M. (Mason) Cole. He was a 1955 graduate of Gill Township High School in Sullivan County. John married Shirley A. Cross on September 10, 1983 in Indianapolis. She preceded him in death on April 18, 2017 after 24 loving years.
John's life was quite remarkable considering that he had hitch-hiked from his home town of Merom to Indianapolis at age 18 without a nickel in his pocket. Thanks to the good heart of his landlord, he landed his first job at one of the Indianapolis parking garages and earned 75 cents/hour plus tips.
John was best known as a workaholic. He retired in 1983 from the Indiana Operating Engineers Union Local 103 out of Indianapolis where he mostly worked for Tousley-Bixler Construction, Indianapolis, operating heavy equipment. John owned and operated his own excavating business, John Cole, Inc. for 15 years. He always said it was a great pleasure to work with his crew of workers from the Morgan County area. John worked many months at the Indianapolis 500 Museum in Speedway, building the 16th Street Tunnel. He was instrumental in the construction of the Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis. He retired as a Superintendent with Tousley-Bixler in 2005 after their last project which was the General Motors Assembly Plant in Fort Wayne. While this was one of the most challenging of their contracts, it was also very rewarding. Following his retirement, John enjoyed being a cattle & horse farmer in Morgan County. It was also during this time that he fell in love with antique tractors, so much so that he owned 17 at one time which he always transported to the Merom Indiana annual festival for others to enjoy.
John was a 50-year member of the International Operating Engineers Union, Local 103 of Indianapolis.
An avid Duke Basketball fan, John also loved watching football. Even though he remained a Peyton Manning fan, his favorite team was the Denver Broncos. The Indy 500 and NASCAR racing brought special memories and he was often photographed with AJ Foyt with whom he developed a personal friendship. When asked who his favorite driver was, he`d chuckle and reply "Whoever is winning!" John enjoyed reading the Reader`s Digest and traveling. Favorite vacation memories include trips with Shirley to St. Thomas and the cruise to Alaska. They loved Alaska and returned to see it again by car.
John is survived by his son, John N. (Diane) Cole of Martinsville, siblings, Harvey (Linda) Cole of Martinsville and Arlene (Jim) Boes of Sullivan; grandchildren, Chris & Jessica Oxford, both of Indianapolis; and 5 great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Roberta (Shipp) Cole, daughter, Paula S. (Cole) Oxford, siblings, Mary Nell, George, William, Warren Cole and Jane (Cole) Atherton; and brother in law, David Atherton.
The Rev. Jim Ackerman will conduct a graveside service at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens Cemetery in Greenwood. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Meredith-Clark Funeral Home in Morgantown.
Memorial contributions may be sent in honor of John to St. Jude Tribute Program, P. O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148-0142
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.meredith-clark.com.
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