Robert B. Cote, 95: Veteran, salesman opened home and heart to others

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FALMOUTH — Robert (“Bob”) Benjamin Cote, 95, a longtime resident of Falmouth, died peacefully Dec. 28 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, surrounded by his children.

Cote was born in Portland on July 13, 1919, to Joseph Thomas Cote and Alice E. (Purington) Cote, and grew up on Munjoy Hill with his brother, Lawrence Eustis, and sister, Gladys. He attended Portland Public Schools and graduated from Portland High School in 1937.

Known as a hard worker, Cote served as an office boy at National Cash Register Co. during his high school years, and then took a job in 1939 as a salesman for a china and glass importer, making $12 a week.

In 1945, Cote began his career with New England Telephone Co. as an apprentice, quickly moving into the installation and repair division and becoming a service foreman. Soon after, he was selected to participate in the company’s management program, and then took charge of training and safety for all craftsmen, a position he held until his retirement in 1981.

Never one to sit idle, Cote then put his salesmanship skills to work again, earning his broker’s license in real estate and joining his good friend, Jake Webb, at Greater Portland Realty.

Cote married Charlotte Maxine Douglass on July 17, 1942, in a military ceremony at Fort Williams Chapel in Cape Elizabeth. The couple lived briefly in Yarmouth before he was deployed to the South Pacific during World War II. There, he served nearly four years as a signalman first class in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Beryl, and was also an assistant navigator. He was honorably discharged in 1945 as a chief quartermaster and chief of flags.

Following his return, Cote and his wife built a home overlooking Mussel Cove in Falmouth, where they raised their children and lived together for 63 years. Bob continued to live independently in their home for several years after Charlotte’s death, surrounded and cared for by his children, daughter-in-law and granddaughters.

Cote served in the 1960s as Falmouth’s president of the American Field Service Club, and opened his home and heart to children from all over the world. In retirement, he and his wife devoted their attention to their granddaughters’ care, spending countless hours attending concerts, games, graduations and other school events.

Always up for an adventure, he traveled the world with his family, both across the United States and abroad, making many friends along the way. Known for his fierce determination, he climbed Machu Picchu in Peru at 85, traveled to New Zealand at 87, and celebrated his 92nd birthday in Alaska with his son.

A former Eagle Scout, Cote served as the leader of Boy Scout Troop No. 34 in Falmouth. In addition, he was a 33rd-Degree Master Mason in the Triangle Lodge No. 1 in Portland, a member of the Scottish Rite, and a member of the Kora Shriners of Maine and Marco Island, Florida. He also was a longtime member of Emmaus Lutheran Church.

Cote is survived by his son, Ronald Cote and wife, Linda, of Falmouth, and his daughter, Pamela Potter and husband, David, of Falmouth. He also leaves his two granddaughters, Cassandra Cote Grantham and husband, Andrew, of Falmouth, and Chelsea Ginn and husband, Matthew, of Portland, and two great-grandchildren, Charlotte Cote Grantham and Michael Grantham.

A Masonic service with military honors was held Jan. 2 at Lindquist Funeral Home, in Yarmouth.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Hospice of Southern Maine, in honor of Raef Chapman CNA (Cote’s primary caregiver and friend), 180 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074.

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