BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — William Paul Cole Jr. passed away on Sunday, June 28, 2020 after battling Parkinson’s disease for nearly 15 years.
But, as two of his sons, Tom and Charile Cole, told 59 News, he leaves a lasting legacy in a city that he lived in, loved, and served until the very end.
“His father, grandfather and great grandfather were all businessmen in Bluefield,” Charlie said. “So I think that’s where he learned his love of Bluefield.”
With business in his blood, he not only became Bluefield’s longest serving Mayor, from 1981 to 1993, but opened his own businesses around southern West Virginia.
“Dad was a great leader during that time for the city, the board of directors, he had such a calm manor about the way he conducted business,” Tom added. “He started three different businesses and had three great sons who followed along and learned from him and fell into the business.”
With those businesses came many different hats. Some of his accomplishments included being Chairman of the American Truck Dealers Association from 1978 to 1980, and serving as President of the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, and President of the Bluefield Rotary Club.
His business skills also played an instrumental role in strengthening Bluefield State College’s educational partnerships with international colleges and universities; for that, a building was remodeled in his honor.
“It was a way to honor dad while he was still alive and that means more today than you can imagine,” Tom added.
As he grew older and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, this business mindset even helped him live a lengthier life.
“Right until the very end, he knew exactly what pills he was supposed to take and when he was supposed to take them so, he took his care very serious,” Tom laughed. “I would tell you maybe five years after most people would be bedridden with this disease, he still woke up every day with a purpose.”
He is survived by three sons and thirteen grandchildren. They, along with longtime friends, like Garry Moore, are moving forward by keeping the family’s name in Bluefield.
“He was the type of person who never met a stranger,” Moore recalled. “If you were friendly towards him, he opened up towards you. This is a strange world we live in and his legacy is that people can get along.”
A graveside service will be held on Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 11 a.m. at the Roselawn Cemetery in Princeton. Instead of flowers, they are asking for donations to be made to the BSC Business School.