Marie Cole, age 89, passed away on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
She was born Estelle Marie Diehl on December 26, 1933 in Glendale, CA, to Harry Oliver and Jessie Pearl (Rhodes) Diehl. Her ancestors were of German, French, and Swiss descent.
Marie grew up in the small Mojave Desert town of Trona, CA. As a child, she learned to play piano and dance. She loved to sit on the front porch with her best friend, Margie, as they played their ukuleles and sang loud enough for the neighbors to hear. As a teenager, Marie was active in Job’s Daughters Bethel 136, served as Honored Queen, and later was a member of Searles Lake Order of the Eastern Star Chapter 547. In high school, Marie served as Treasurer during her senior year. After graduating in 1951, Marie attended Dental Nursing School in San Francisco while continuing to pursue her interests in art.
On a blind date while living in San Francisco, she met James Leroy Cole who was serving as a Naval Quarter Master Signalman during the Korean War. On December 29, 1952, they were married in Trona, CA. They were together for 67 years until Jim passed away on Veterans Day, November 11, 2020. Together, they enjoyed raising a family of 3 children, camping every summer, gardening, and international travel during their retirement years. One very memorable trip was to West Germany, Switzerland, and Austria with their son while he was stationed in Europe.
They made their home in Southern California for 28 years before moving to Colorado. After moving to Colorado in 1980, Marie worked first for the Society of Mining Engineers and then for IREA (now Core Electric) from1981 until her retirement in1994.
Whether on a family camping trip or hosting dinner guests or a picnic at home, Marie was known for her comfort food cooking. Her family would watch her knead dough for bread that evening, fill jars with homemade jam, anticipate the enjoyment of special treats like Sailor’s Duff (steamed pudding), Chili Relleno, or Cioppino for holidays, and appreciated the hamburger patties provided as an alternative whenever she cooked liver & onions to perfection for her husband. Marie could often be heard singing – songs from her childhood and songs from her favorite musicals as she listened to the soundtracks on her 33 rpm record player. She also enjoyed black & white movie classics, reading mysteries, relaxing with a cup of tea or glass of wine, coffee all day long, and anything chocolate. As an adult, she continued with her musical skills by playing the organ for family and friends. In the 1970’s, her love of dancing led her to the traditional dance of the Middle East. Her enjoyment of this style of dance was shared by giving dance lessons as well as public performances.
Marie was an accomplished seamstress – making many school dresses every year for her daughters. She would often get ideas in the 1950’s from the Betsy McCall images in the McCall magazines. She made a beautiful wedding dress for her oldest daughter. Marie was also an accomplished artist – painting, photography, weaving, and jewelry. As a young mother, Marie would sit on the living room floor with a canvas in front of her blissfully painting as her children played around her. She won several awards for her photography and was accepted for the Littleton (CO) Calendar in both 1991 and 1992. Her works have been on display at several galleries in Colorado and New Mexico.
Marie had a lifelong passion for gardening – including weeding. She had a green thumb and whether it was a plate of fresh tomatoes or a jar of blackberry jam, everyone looked forward to her harvest. Another pastime she enjoyed for many years was serving as a volunteer docent at the Molly Brown House in Denver. Marie also participated in fashion shows, often along with her granddaughter, wearing original clothing of the early 19th century.
Always believing in her ability to do whatever she set her mind to, Marie and her childhood friend Margie (Trotter-Robison), embarked on an adventure to write and self-publish a book about growing up in Trona during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Secrets of our Desert Wind (2012) provides us not only with memories of childhood but also of life in a company-owned town (American Potash).
Marie will be very much missed by family and friends that will remember her beautiful smile, loving heart, creativity and playful spirit.
She is survived by her daughter Jennifer (Bruce) Bradbury of Indiana; her son James (Shanna) of Colorado; her granddaughter Sara (Bill) Blevins of Indiana; two great-grandchildren, Franklin (11) and Valerie (7) Blevins; two sisters-in-law, plus many nieces and nephews.
Preceding her in death are her parents, Harry and Jessie Diehl; brother, Albert Diehl; daughter, Audrey Cole; and husband, James Cole.
Marie’s ashes will be buried at Seven Stones Chatfield (CO) alongside her daughter and her husband.