Willie Robert "Bob" Cole, 92, Todd, NC, passed away Thursday, February 6, 2020 at Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation. Bob was born April 15, 1927 in Rockingham, NC, to Willie Kern Cole and Annie Hasty Cole. He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Susan Stockbridge Cole. He is also survived by three sons, Calvin and wife Jane of Durham, Robert and wife Trina of Morganton, and William and wife Cindy of Raleigh and by seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Dorothy Cole Whitehurst of Hollywood, FL and a number of nieces and nephews.
In 1981 Bob Cole was certified as a Master Beekeeper by the Eastern Apicultural Society of North America; he was the first southern beekeeper so certified. He served EAS for five years as Chairman of the Board, 1985-890. He was a professional beekeeper, seller of bee books, and a teacher of beekeeping. For several years he was also a honey producer and packer. He served as a volunteer for foreign aid programs to developing and third world countries, 1996-2004., and has assisted beekeepers in 25 countries and has received three presidential volunteer awards for his work overseas. He was also awarded North Carolina's highest civilian award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in 2004.
Bob has also received a number of awards for beekeeping including ones from the Eastern Apicultural Society, the Southern States Beekeepers Federation, the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association, and, awards from the Watauga County Beekeepers and Ashe County Beekeepers - both of which he founded.
Bob continued to present programs on beekeeping and his foreign beekeeping experience to clubs in North Carolina and around the south. He presented in New England and as far away as San Francisco. He also displayed at local fairs and festivals and talked about the bees to interested people and children. He was a mentor for dozens of beekeepers in both Watauga and Ashe Counties.
Bob was a veteran of World War II and Korea as a member of the 82nd Airborne where he served as a Master Sergeant. Bob attended the University of North Carolina where he studied geology. He studied beekeeping at NC State University and the instrumental insemination of queen bees at the Ohio State University.
Bob is a 50 year Lion and served in a number of club and district positions including District Governor in 1997-98.
Bob had a number of interesting jobs in his long life. He was a stock car driver and raced with such greats as Cale Yarborough and Junior Johnson. He spent several years working for RCA as a salesman and then for Chet Atkins in Nashville setting up studio recordings and eventually traveling in the south with recording artists like Al Hirt and John Denver. He acted in and assisted with two movies made in North Carolina,
Where the Lillies Bloom and The Last American Hero. He also installed electronic carillons through the US and Mexico before takin on a full time career as a beekeeper and honey packer.
Memorial services for Bob Cole will be conducted Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 2 PM at Austin & Barnes Funeral Home Chapel.
Memorials may be made to the NC Lions, Inc., PO Box 39, Sherrill's Ford, NC 28673.
Online condolences may be shared with the Cole family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Cole family. Online condolences may be shared at the website of www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com