Dave Cole Remembered
The following memorial, written by Dave's son, Richard, appeared in the Santa Maria Times, on November 22, 2016:
David L. Cole
Automotive historian, researcher, and editor DAVID L. COLE reached the end of the road of life early on the morning of Friday, November 11, 2016, at the age of 85.
A lifelong resident of Santa Barbara County, Dave was born in Santa Barbara on June 13, 1931, the only child of Linden S. Cole and the former Mabelle P. Smith. He graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1949 and from the University of California at Santa Barbara (Riviera campus) in 1954. It was while a student at UCSB that he met and fell in love with an attractive blonde from Pasadena named Barbara Bruce. They were married on February 1, 1953 ("the first day of a perfect month," he used to say, as seen on the calendar), and their love story continued for 51 years before her untimely passing on June 5, 2004.
After a stint in the Army in 1955-56 that took him, Barbara, and their infant son to Munich, Germany, Dave spent 28 years as a field engineer with General Telephone Co. His job transferred him in 1961 to Santa Maria, where the Coles have lived ever since. In the mid-1980's, with telecommunications technology beginning to move into the computer age, Dave, a confirmed Luddite, saw his chance to bail out, and seized the opportunity to retire at the age of 53. This left him free to pursue full-time his lifelong interest in vintage cars (early Ford V-8's and Lincoln V-12's, mostly), roads and highways, maps, and automotive history. He has written informative and amusing articles for a number of automotive publications since the 1960's, and served as the editor of "The Way of the Zephyr," the magazine of the Lincoln-Zephyr Owners Club, from 1989 until his death. This gave him the welcome opportunity to work closely with his son Richard, a graphic designer, who set the type and laid out the pages for the magazine.
Dave was well known among vintage Ford and Lincoln enthusiasts across the country and around the world, and was a familiar figure at national car club meets every year from 1957 to 2016. Fellow car guys found him to be a fount of arcane knowledge about intricate matters of history and authenticity, able to recite obscure part numbers and specifications off the top of his head. "That's what Dave Cole says about it," guys would say, and that would settle any argument.
For his last few decades, Dave was so busy researching and writing that he didn't have time to work on his own cars, but at the time of his death he still owned the 1932 Ford coupe he bought as a teenager in 1948 and the 1940 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet that he and Barbara bought together in 1954.
When Barbara was alive, the two of them often traveled the country together to research family genealogy, another favorite subject, happily spending countless hours in dusty research libraries and dark courthouse basements reading microfilm records and piecing together a comprehensive family history going back several generations. Locally, they enjoyed the cultural side of Santa Maria, and have been regular supporters of PCPA Theaterfest since the Interim Theatre days back in the mid-1960's.
Dave Cole is survived by his three children, Richard Cole (and wife Catherine), Elaine Schnepple, and Kathleen Wilson, all of Santa Maria; and five grandchildren, Caroline Hysell (and husband Luke) of Port Townsend, Washington; Claudia Cole of Grover Beach; Cecily Cole of San Luis Obispo; and David Wilson and Corinne Wilson of Santa Maria.
At Dave's request, there will be no services. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dave Cole may be contributed to the Lincoln Motor Car Heritage Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan. To leave a condolence for the family, visit www.dudleyhoffmanmortuary.com.