Funeral services were held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007 at the Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Storm Lake. Burial was in the Schaller Cemetery. The Fratzke & Jensen Funeral Home in Storm Lake was in charge of the arrangements.
Cole was born on May 31, 1921, the first born of Elwood T. and Irma C. (Hansen) Cole at Newell. He was baptized at the Storm Lake United Methodist Church of which his grandparents, Frank T. and Sylvia (Parr) Cole were local supporters of in their days. He is the sixth in line of generations as farmers dating back to 1792. Ralph was a distant family name. He spent his entire life on the family farm which his grandfather, Frank T. had purchased Feb. 9, 1886.
He spent his earliest years with his grandmother and grandfather Charles F. and Mary Dora (Olson) Hansen in rural Newell. Fond memories of these grandparents were always carried by him. He loved to reminisce about these early days, even pondering these memories with visitors during his last weeks of his life.
At the age of seven, he came to live on the Storm Lake farm when he enrolled in first grade and later graduated in 1939 from Hayes Consolidated School. He was an active member of the Boys' 4-H Club where he won top awards with dairy animals and fed "baby beeves". He earned many awards in track at the district Iowa meets. He was also a member of the Hayes High School baseball team.
Due to his father's poor health, suffering with the burden of asthma and heart ailments in the early 1930's, the duty as the oldest child required him to sacrifice many of his school activities. He stepped in and took his place to the fullest of his capacity for the family from boyhood until the year 1947.
Winter time periods, between crop seasons, he spent time taking Farm Operations and Agronomy courses at Iowa State College in Ames. Each time he passed entrance exams (marines, paratrooper corps) the local draft board called re-classification on him to do the family role as family supporter. Over the years, he worked various jobs at night and farmed during the day to keep the family farm going. He started farming on his own in 1947.
On Feb. 28, 1947, Ralph and Lois Ruth Clausen were wed at the First Presbyterian Church of Schaller. She was the daughter of George William and Adelaide H. (Reineking) Clausen of Schaller. They were destined to work side-by-side for the rest of their years together. In addition to farming, he built his own "fore-runners" barge boxes and was a re-builder of farm equipment. He found much enjoyment in re-building and overhauling car, tractor and truck engines. He held night employment overhauling, "Diamond T" trucks for the Peter Pan Baking Company which had to be on the road day hours. He would also find time to take additional educational courses in the United States Government Aeronautics and Electronics fields. As of 1999, he had operated a grain combine for 59 years.
Later in life, he suffered for 16 years with health problems. He was later diagnosed as a person ranking one in 300,000 because of a rare syndrome. He was a cancer survivor. His specialists said one year ago, we think you are the only one left.
He will forever be remembered as a farmer who loved the land, cared deeply for his livestock and worked many hard years. He loved his wife and took great pride in their partnership for life. They carved out many memories over the years. As attested in Ralph's lifetime, boys and young men have acclaimed him as a mentor. Consequently, he experienced a rewarding feeling for having given unselfish time and shared knowledge to them.
Survivors are his wife of almost 60 years, Lois of Storm Lake; sister-in-law Mildred (Clausen) Hadenfeldt of Alta; many nieces and nephews; and other extended family and a host of friends.
Preceding him in death were his parents; two brothers: James W. Cole (Schaller) and C. Dean Cole (Storm Lake); and brother-in-law Bob L. Hadenfeldt (Alta).