SOUTH PORTLAND — Donald Franklin Cole, 89, died peacefully at his home on March 13, surrounded by his family.
Cole was born Oct. 13, 1925, in Falmouth, the son of Clarence S. and Mildred (Harmon) Cole. He graduated from Falmouth High School in 1942, and then joined the U.S. Navy.
During World War II, Cole served for four years as part of the 67th Construction Battalion Seabees, stationed on the Mariana Islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. He was discharged in 1946 as a motor machinist mate, third class.
On Sept. 25, 1948, Cole married Mildred Bishop at Little Falls Baptist Church in Windham.
Cole drove school buses for the City of Portland, and worked as the transportation director with the Falmouth School Department for 28 years. He loved his work and the children he met. Later, he concluded his career by serving as a postal employee in Kennebunk.
Outside of work, Cole volunteered as the first Little League coach in Falmouth, and attended Falmouth Congregational Church. He and his wife also loved to travel, and took their first cross-country trip with their sons to Disneyland in California. The couple ultimately drove to see 48 states, often visiting other Seabees at Navy reunions. Cole and his wife also hosted two Seabee reunions in Portland.
Cole was an avid Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots fan, and closely followed the activities of his grandchildren. After his stroke in 2004, he and his wife moved to South Portland in order to be closer to the ocean.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Mildred; two sons, Denis and wife, Mary, of Las Vegas, Nevada, and David and wife, Debbie, of Portland; five grandchildren, Matthew, Michelle, Elizabeth, Emily and Eric; and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation and a celebration of Cole’s life were held Tuesday at Jones-Rich- Hutchins Funeral Home, in Portland. Burial with military honors will be held in the spring at Blanchard Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Cole’s memory may be made to the South Portland Fire and Rescue Department, 684 Broadway, South Portland, ME 04106.