Sheryl Cole recently found an old photograph of her husband, Gene, talking on the telephone, glasses on his forehead, turning to look at whomever was taking the picture. She thinks it was 2009.

She likes to think he was talking to her that day, and she composed a few things she would be saying to him today.

Family stuff. Personal stuff.

“Hello, Hon. Yes, the kids are taking very good care of me,” Sheryl wrote under the picture on her Facebook page. “I’ll be sure to let Phil, Joe, David, and Jill know how much you love and miss them.

“I’ll tell them all how hard you tried to stay with us, and how it saddened you when you realized you couldn’t. Yes, I’ll tell them you are okay, and now you can do what you always tried to do before — watch over all of us at the same time, and guide us all.”

A lot has happened since Sheryl Cole’s husband, Cpl. Eugene Cole of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed April 25 while on night duty in their hometown of Norridgewock. There were remembrances, vigils, benefits, a wake and a celebration of the 13-year police veteran’s life at the Cross Center in Bangor.


This week, a national police organization announced it had raised $20,377 to be used by Concerns of Police Survivors — C.O.P.S. — as requested by the Cole family, according to a news release from Thin Blue Line USA, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Thin Blue Line USA made the donation from money raised from their Give Blue Fundraiser honoring the memory of Cole.

“Through the sales of Thin Blue Line American Flag Bracelets, a total of $20,377.00 was raised,” spokeswoman Kelleigh Lamb said in an email to the Morning Sentinel. “Thin Blue Line USA produced a video, posted on social media, announcing the tragic event. The video inspired countless testimonies to Cole in the comments.”

The fundraising event has expired. The video, which is still available for viewing on the Thin Blue Line USA Facebook page, states that the Cole killer was still at large.

Cole was shot and killed just minutes after apparently stopping to check on John D. Williams, who had duffel bags and a bullet proof vest after being dropped off at a driveway on U.S. Route 2 in Norridgewock around 1 a.m.

A friend said Williams called him 15 minutes later, saying he had just shot the corporal and that either Williams had snuck up on Cole or vice versa — the friend couldn’t remember which.


Williams, 29, of Madison, made an initial appearance April 30 at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta on a charge of murder. Cole was killed by a single gunshot wound to the neck that perforated his spinal cord, according to the criminal complaint.

The financial donation through Thin Blue Line USA was sent to the C.O.P.S organization and they are currently holding the funds awaiting the family’s approval for distribution, Lamb said in the email.

“The family requested that part of the donation is designated towards a scholarship program for the state of Maine,” she said.

Lamb said the Cole family can also use a portion of the donations to go toward a “Garden of Hope” paver, or a “Road to Hope” tile, which, if the family agrees, would be part of a walkway to be placed in the courtyard outside the C.O.P.S. national office in Camdenton, Missouri.

“With every fundraiser, we have the direct family select where the money will be donated,” she said.

C.O.P.S. was organized in 1984 with 110 individual members, according to the group’s website. Today C.O.P.S. membership is over 47,000 survivors — spouses, children, parents, siblings, significant others and affected co-workers of officers killed in the line of duty according to federal government criteria.


C.O.P.S. is governed by a National Board of law enforcement survivors. All programs and services are administered by the National Office in Camdenton, Missouri. C.O.P.S. has over 50 chapters nationwide that work with survivors at the grass-roots level.

Sheryl Cole said the family was in contact with the fundraising groups and will decide how the money will be used.

“Yes … we were kept fully informed,” she said in a social media message. “It was donated to Concerns of Police Survivors … C.O.P.S. As far as the donations, we are still in the early stages of determining how it can best be put to use.”

Sheryl Cole said the scholarship fund will be used to help send a police officer to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.

The Norridgewock Board of Selectmen also has approved renaming the bridge in town over the Kennebec River the Corporal Eugene Cole Memorial Bridge in a 4-0 vote this month, sending the measure to the Legislature for approval. The bill is sponsored by Republican Rep. Brad Farrin.

“How I am doing?” Sheryl Cole said in an email to the Morning Sentinel. “I have bad days, I have some not so bad days, and I have some days when it hits me all over again. I’m still trying to thank people for the incredible outpouring of support. I still haven’t been out in ‘public.’


“I went to the Memorial Day parade here in Norridgewock, and that ended up just being an incredibly sad day. So for now I stay close to home, spending most of my time with family.”

Cole was the first Maine police officer to die in a shooting in nearly 30 years.

John D. Williams was arrested April 28 following a four-day manhunt that involved more than 200 law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies.

The case has been moved to Cumberland County, where his court appointed attorney, Patrick Nickerson, said he would be more likely to get a fair trial with all the media coverage of Cole’s murder in central Maine.

Sheryl Cole summed it all up for herself and for her family in the recent Facebook post accompanying the 2009 photo of her husband.

“Yes, I know how much you truly love me,” she said, as if talking with Gene on the telephone. “I know how much you love our family. I know how much you love your job. But, hon, I hope you know how much we love you. How much we miss you. How hard we are trying to comprehend life without you here. How much we struggle to get through. How hard we are trying to keep your memory alive.


“Please know I’m profoundly grateful you chose me, and you was mine. I will remain incomplete. I will remain your wife. I will always love you. After all, you said it best … ‘Forever will be our eternity.'”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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