John Wilder Cole

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – John Wilder Cole, 70, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family, following a valiant 12-year battle with cancer.

Born on Oct. 4, 1952, to Barbara and Charles Cole, John grew up in Gardiner with his older brother, Fred. In high school, John became a state champion wrestler, an all-conference football player and ran track and field. He graduated from Gardiner High School in 1972 and USMPG in 1977 with a degree in business technology.

John had three sons, Marc, Luke, and Sam, and when he married his lifelong partner, Beryl Cohen, in May 1991, he welcomed stepdaughter, Amanda, and stepson, David, whom he loved as his own.

John worked in IT for his entire career until retiring from UNUM in 2015, at which point he traded in his winter tires for palm trees when he and Beryl moved to Delray Beach, Fla. He had four grandchildren, who were his joy and gave him the will to continue during his fight against cancer.

John was an unforgettable man. He loved fiercely and didn’t want to miss a minute. He was the loudest one in a crowd and could sometimes be heard singing out a random tune in his deep, silly voice. He was an award-winning nap-taker, an avid learner who enjoyed researching genealogy and family history, and a lifelong dog lover.

After developing his passion for the sport of wrestling in high school, he went on to pioneer the wrestling program at Scarborough High School and referee the sport for many years. He was a ham radio operator who went by the call sign N1QFH and was frequently down at the “ham shack” near his residence in Florida.

For several years, John enjoyed playing Santa at the Scarborough Town Hall, bringing joy to hundreds of local children. He was elected to and served on the Scarborough School Board for several years.

He almost always wore shorts and sandals, even during the Maine winters. He could talk to anyone and was genuine in his conversations.

He converted to Judaism, and faithfully practiced and learned Jewish teachings and attended Torah studies.

He enjoyed cooking for his family and was a professional at setting off smoke alarms in the kitchen. John loved visiting local bakeries and bringing back all the best treats for his grandkids. He was active in the community and believed in the importance of giving back.

During his retirement, John enjoyed volunteering his time giving guided tours at Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge and being a meter maid for the Delray, Fla. police department.

He loved any opportunity to brag about his family, especially his grandchildren, and even when he was in severe pain, would attend sporting events to root for them. He was generous and was always the first to jump in to help someone in need. He loved sitting around the dinner table with family and friends, drinking his red wine and laughing his big laugh.

John is survived by his wife, Beryl Cole; son, Marc Cole, his wife Erika and their daughters Lila and Lydia; sons Luke Cole and Sam Cole; brother, Fred Cole and his wife Nora; niece, Lauren Cole, her husband Nick and their daughter, Jane; nephew, Matt Cole, his wife Rainelle and their daughter, Charlotte; stepdaughter, Amanda Bellerose, her husband Matt and their children, Bryce and Lexie; numerous cousins; nieces, nephews; and other close friends.

He was predeceased by parents, Barbara and Charles Cole; and his stepson, David Cohen.

Arrangements made by Portland Jewish Funeral Home. Funeral services to honor John’s remarkable life will be held at Congregation Bet Ha’am at 81 Westbrook St. in South Portland, on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to American Cancer Society to fund further research.

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