First Memorial Funeral Services

1211 Sutherland Ave, Kelowna, BC


Martin Edward COLE

August 5, 1922June 21, 2020

Martin Edward Cole August 5, 1922 – June 21, 2020

With sadness, we announce the quiet passing of our loving father and grandfather Martin Edward Cole, at home on June 21, 2020 at the age of 97.

He will be remembered with love and gratitude by his five children Laureen Johnston, Elaine Maxwell (Dale), Leona Geber (Ferenc), and Janet Dedinsky, and Marilyn Alviar (Manuel); his fourteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his beloved wife Rena and son David.

We thought our dad could do anything. He taught us to be quiet in church and in the station wagon, to be loud at hockey games, at campgrounds and in curling rinks. He was a born athlete, strong and agile. Our dad could lift the biggest boulders, make a table in half a day, fix our plumbing, electrical or cars. He spent much of his free time turning wood into works of art, playing cards, visiting, gardening, reading, watching curling and listening to us.

He loved to laugh, be early, pack light, eat pancakes and fruit, listen to music, drink in pubs and cry at weddings. He was everything to us.

Martin Cole was born into a long line of pioneering adventurers: his ancestors landed in New Amsterdam in 1635, fought as an UEL in Niagara 1812, built Conestoga wagons, opened libraries, started churches, grew cities, pioneered Saskatchewan, created Coleville, farmed new lands and finally brought our big family out west to Kelowna in 1966. Our father was a pilot in the Second World War, flying out of RAF Station Lissett with the 158 Squadron on thirteen successful missions, in a Halifax aptly named Z for Zombie. Major Cole was part of the liberation of Holland and was lauded in their Remembrance Events on many trips there, including to Veendam, our sister city. He gifted many years to volunteering, in leadership, and involvement in the Royal Canadian Legion, mentoring young soldiers with the BC Dragoons, speaking to students at Shannon Lake Elementary and as a Living Resource at KLO School and many other contributions for the betterment of our country and community. As K. Windsor (Exc Dir. of the NAFMuseum) stated, ”He was a testament to the quality of our Royal Canadian Air Force, the calibre of his generation, and the calibre of Canadians.”

After the war, Martin returned to the family farm, was a curler, traveller, Major in the Militia, zamboni driver, hunter, Post Master and child wrangler and problem-solver. During his retirement, Martin and Rena travelled the world, first for fun and adventure, then on missions with the New Life Church. Their mission work took them to the Philipines, Hawaii, California and Mexico, Samoa and India. In between trips, Mom and Dad actively volunteered as elders in the New Life Church, at Camp Owaissi and KGH. Then Dad himself, at David Lloyd Jones Home, the War Memorial Museum, the Veendam Sister City Society and the Legion #26. Perhaps his greatest pleasure, in the last fifteen years, was traveling near and far with his son David.

Dad will be remembered for his devotion to his family, always interested and willing to help in any way. With a loving kind heart and wonderful sense of humour, he enjoyed life to the fullest. We will all miss you.

The family wishes to extend a very special thank you to Drs. Obedkoff and Imrie, RN Patti Flansburg and the IH Palliative Care Team. Donations may be made to the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.

Due to the current restrictions, there will be a private family gathering and internment at Lakeview Memorial Gardens on June 30, 2020. If possible, a celebration of life will be announced and held at a later date.

Arrangements entrusted to First Memorial Funeral Services, 250-762-2299.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.firstmemorialfuneralkelowna.com


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Martin Edward COLE

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ron Seymour

July 2, 2020

Hello...I met Martin during a trip to Veendam, Holland in the spring of 2015 that marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Though he was already into his 90s, I was amazed by his vivid recollection of long ago events, and the modest descriptions he offered of his role in preserving light and liberty for us all.
He struck me as a thoughtful, kind, intelligent and charming man. I’m sad to hear of his death, but certain the world is better for his having lived.
Ron Seymour

Dave Johnson

June 30, 2020

Martin was a great inspiration to all of us at our church seniors fellowship gatherings on Tuesday mornings. He stood so straight without any assistance as he shared some of his life story which was very interesting!
We will miss this great man of God.
Our prayers are with his family.

Marie Rolfe

June 29, 2020

Martin was a great man and life-time 'buddy' to Jim . He also was a all-time hero to our family members, They all knew him as the wooden-apple man and fierce wartime pilot . Half of them didn't even know his last name, yet often asked ,"how is Martin doing?" Those precious wooden apples will serve to remind all of us over the years to come, of this gentle man who was outstanding in every way. He left such a giant footprint in this world of ours and will be sincerely missed and never forgotten.

Mark Cote

June 29, 2020

I met Martin only once -- at the 2012 -158 Squadron Association Reunion in Yorkshire. He, to me, was the epitome of a hero -- humble, generous and thoughtful. An enduring memory I have is how moved he was to be laying a wreath at the memorial service (pictured). At the luncheon raffle afterward, I was lucky to pick as a prize, one of his hand-made wooden plates (inlaid with a commemorative coin). It sits on my bookcase to this day. Thank you Martin for your service and to his surviving family, my deepest condolences. His immortality is in the many lives he touched.

Cheryl Dedels

June 26, 2020

Dear Laureen, Elaine, Leona, Janet, Marilyn and families,
What a fitting tribute to a man who led such a long, remarkable, and well-lived life. Even with all his accomplishments, Martin’s love of family is what will stand out most to me. He was so proud of his six children and the many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that followed. Thinking of you all at this time. ❤️
Cheryl & Mike Dedels

Chuck Tolley

June 26, 2020

As an RCAF Veteran who served with RAF 158 Squadron, Martin was a Foundation Member of the Squadron Association. He attended many of the annual reunions in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, and is fondly remembered by fellow veterans and friends. Attached is a picture of Martin and a fellow veteran, Donnie Macfarlane, at one of the Reunions. RIP

Dana Howe

June 26, 2020

I met your parents at church in the early 90's when they were elders. I always admired them and very much appreciated their wisdom and steadfast faith. Rena interviewed me for church membership and, at one point, I thought she might not recommend me to be accepted as a member! Rena explained that she wanted to ensure that my walk with God wasn't "riding on the coattails" of my parents. Although it was disconcerting in the moment, I will never forget it and tell the story often with an (appreciative) smile. :) Martin and Rena were an unforgettable duo.

Also, any November 11th that my husband and I attended the Kelowna Remembrance Day ceremonies, we knew that Martin would always be there to point out to our kids. That would start a conversation about Martin and our family members who served our country for the incredible freedom we enjoy to this day. We always ended up feeling honored by attending because of how faithful the veterans were in showing up, year after year.

My parents knew your parents for even longer and will be glad to see them in heaven. My Dad (Max Ongaro) passed away just recently. He always spoke with great respect and fondness when referring to your father.

No doubt he will be missed! May the Holy Spirit bring you much comfort as you remember your Dad.

Dana (& Doug) Howe