Alvin (Alvy) Norman Cole, age 87, of Cokato, died Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, due to coronary heart disease.
He was born Sept. 11, 1925, in Tolley, ND, to Alice Ogaard and Truman Cole. Alvin was raised by his grandparents in North Dakota, and when he was 11, moved to Cokato with them. He later made his home with his aunt and uncle, Maurice and Doris Ogaard.
Alvin served in the US Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, from 1944-47. Upon his return, he found an apprenticeship through the GI bill to work at Eddie’s Auto Body shop in Waverly, where he sold Ford tractors and learned the auto body trade.
He later worked for Lyle Stowell at the Cokato Body and Paint. He started his own business in 1959, at the Green Giant Farm Shop; and later built Cole’s Auto Body on Highway 12, from where he retired in 1992.
Alvin married Mary Louise Hillmeyer July 17, 1952. They resided on Brooks Lake their entire marriage, where they raised a family of four. This past summer, Alvin and Mary celebrated 60 happy years of marriage.
Alvy was passionate about the conservation and preservation of the natural environment and its creatures. He was a tireless volunteer with the Rainbow Sportsman Club, and was president of the Wright County Federation of Sportsman’s Club in 1959, and a member of Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. He founded and taught gun and snowmobile safety classes in the Cokato area, and worked to preserve the water quality of his beloved Brooks Lake.
Alvy was also a member of Cokato American Legion Post 209 for 60 years, and a Cokato-Dassel Lions International member since 1981. He was the first member of the club to receive the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award for his volunteer work and dedication to the community.
For decades, Alvy was a common fixture at the Cokato Corn Carnival and could be found frying pork chops and brats at the Lions stand. He was an advocate for the trail along Highway 12, and in his 70s, would help maintain the grass by driving his lawnmower between Cokato and Dassel. He also served as a Cokato volunteer fireman for 32 years.
Alvy tended to vegetable and flower gardens for decades, and was an avid hunter and gatherer. Family and friends have many colorful stories of picking berries, mushrooms, and fruit, as well as hunting deer, ducks, pheasants, and more. Fishing was a passion of his, from fly fishing, salmon fishing in Alaska and Lake Michigan, to slaying sunfish at his cabin in Hackensack, which the family has enjoyed since the early ‘70s.
Alvy was known for his Weber grilling and smoking skills, sense of adventure, light-hearted jokes, work ethic, keen problem solving on all kinds of projects, and his common sense. He was a salt-of-the-earth man, who was very family-centered and enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren, and his dogs.
In his retirement, Alvy tackled many projects in his shop, from furniture restoration to creating things from found objects. He kept a photo journal of many of his woodworking projects, and was especially proud to be involved in the restoration of a 1918 Model T Ford snowmobile and the 1928 Reo Speedwagon fire truck.
Alvin is survived by his wife, Mary, of Cokato; son David (wife Shirley) of Cokato; daughters Anna Appelbaum (husband Martin) of St. Paul, Elaine (husband Todd) of Forest Grove, OR, and Cindy Barth (husband Scott) of Cokato; grandchildren Zachary (Staci), Carlie, Allyson, Maya, and Ramon; and sisters, Trudy Borstad (Clayton), and Nancy Raisanen (Ron).
Private family services were held.
To honor Alvy’s wishes, please send memorials in his name to Cokato Lions Club, P.O. Box 691, Cokato, MN, 55321; and Cokato American Legion Post 209, Commander, P.O. Box 43, Cokato, MN 55321.
Arrangements were handled by the Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato.