A. LeRoy “Lee” Cole
Arthur LeRoy “Lee” Cole ’59, 81, passed away on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at his home. He was the husband of Rita Davis Cole.
Lee never wanted to be the center of attention. That doesn’t apply now! He’s in heaven and doesn’t get a say about the attention given him here. What follows is a testament to God’s love, mercy, and guidance in Lee’s life. Hopefully, it will be a reminder that no matter what hand life deals us, God’s hand can always “trump.” Writing these words brings me joy and much gratefulness for the fifty-eight plus years that I knew Lee. I was blessed to be married to him for almost that long.
Arthur Leroy “Lee” Cole, 81, of Peachtree City, GA died at home on November 2, 2022 following a short battle with cancer.
Lee was born in Miami, FL to Thomas and Lillian Cole on February 18, 1941. Instability left an indelible imprint on Lee’s early years, due to both parents’ addiction to alcohol. He lost both of them to their addictions. His mom died at the age of 32. Following her death, his dad’s addiction caused him to, not only abandon Lee, but to abandon life in general. Lee’s care was then in the hands of his single, working Granny in Washington, DC. With little supervision, Lee found his way to the streets of DC, running with other potential delinquents. This behavior got him apprehended for theft by the Metropolitan DC police. As a consequence, he was required to report to the police boys club after school every day. It was there he learned to play basketball, honing his skills with many hours to practice. This intervention, plus other factors, got Lee to the Milton Hershey School (MHS) in Hershey, PA…Jokingly, he would refer to MHS as a home for “orphan” boys but then say, with all seriousness, MHS probably saved my life. Lee thrived at MHS, both academically and athletically, on the Spartan basketball team. The local newspaper wrote many articles about Lee’s on-court performances, calling him one of the best players in Eastern PA…He graduated from MHS in 1959 and went on to the community college on a basketball scholarship, (thank you DC police boys club). He was granted a scholarship, based on honorable character and academics, by the Hershey Foundation, to the University of Denver where he graduated in 1963. With the conflict raging in Vietnam, Lee volunteered for service in the Navy where he earned his Naval Aviator Wings and served six years of active duty. Lee considered these years a privilege and honor, not a duty. During two deployments, Lee’s path crossed paths with many true heroes. One being John McCain, who departed, but didn’t return from, the last mission he flew from the flight deck of the same carrier Lee was aboard, the USS Oriskany. Lee left the Navy in 1969 for a 30 year career which he thoroughly enjoyed, at Delta Airlines, retiring in 1999.
The most important event in Lee’s life took place in his mid-thirties. Jesus had known Lee before the foundation of the world but Lee didn’t come to know him personally until 1972. Prior to this life changing experience, Lee wouldn’t hesitate to call himself a “self-made” man, afterwards, he knew otherwise. He then knew that God had been directing his steps all along. Lee’s self-assurance was replaced with a humble strength and confidence that all who knew him got to witness for the last fifty plus years.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents; his granny; his brother, Bruce; and sister, Linda. His is survived by his wife, Rita Davis Cole; son, Todd; daughter, Laura; and his second son, Laura’s husband Scott; his grandchildren, Jonathan, Katherine, Caroline, Sally, and Evan; plus numerous nieces and nephews; and dear friends.
How will Lee be remembered? That will depend on your relationship with him. On the “fun side”, if you ever played basketball with or against him, you’ll remember him as a great “shooter”, a fierce but fair competitor and fun to play the game with. On the “life side”, his friends will remember him as available and loyal. For his family, there are too many things to list but a sampling is his devotion, patience, commitment, and most of all, his unfailing love for all of us, as was demonstrated every day of his life, in everything he did. He is missed terribly, yet at the same time, we’re comforted in knowing we’ll see him again in heaven!
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.carmichaelhemperleypeachtree.com for the Cole family.