Frank O. Cole, Jr., 77, of rural Sims, Illinois passed away at his home on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. He was the son of Frank Obert, Sr. and Margaret Hamilton Cole. He was born March 1, 1944 in Gorham, Illinois and graduated from Murphysboro High School. He continued his education on a music scholarship to Baylor University, followed by the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and the College of St. Scholastica, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. He earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling at the University of Wisconsin, Superior.
Frank is survived by his wife, Valerie Withrow Cole, who he married on November 27, 1964 in Carbondale, IL, two sons, Brian Frank Cole, and his wife, Bruna Figueiredo, of Washington, DC, and Kevin Lester Cole of Sims. Frank was overjoyed to welcome his grandson, Liam Atticus Frank Cole to his family on March 22, 2021. Frank was getting to know his grandson through pictures and in real time over the internet. Two sisters also survive: Neva "Memo" Knoke of Tampa, FL, and Mary Renfro of Paducah, KY. He is also survived by sister-in-law, Verona Highsmith of Dallas, TX, and brother-in-law Elmore (Lucinda) Withrow of Sims, plus numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Wanda Keller, and two brothers in law Versil Withrow and Darrell Highsmith.
Frank was a member and active in labor unions with the State of Minnesota (AFSCME) and the Federal Government Labor Department (AFGE). His work at the U.S Department of Labor involved overseeing funding for employment programs, working with state and local officials to improve job training and placement throughout the nation.
Frank served approximately 8 years in the U.S. Air Force in Duluth, Minnesota where among his many duties he was a SAGE Operator, which is known as one of the monumental projects that changed our modern world and a seminal moment in the history of computer technology and NORAD. He also served at Clark Air Base in the Philippine Islands during the Vietnam era.
His fascination with technology led to a career shift which included working in early computerization and networking within the Department of Labor and later going on to manage computer networks for several large companies and government contractors.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Frank’s memory may be made to his latest educational project, an education fund for Liam Atticus Frank Cole, to Valerie Cole c/o Richardson's Funeral Home in Wayne City, Illinois or to Habitat for Humanity. A celebration of life service for Frank O. Cole, Jr. will be announced at a later date.
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