In memory of
Kenneth Joseph Cole
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In memory of
Kenneth Joseph Cole
Oct. 4, 1946 – Feb. 12, 2017 Kenneth J. Cole was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Kenneth Yager Cole and Eunice Sanders Cole. His early years were spent in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. After graduation from Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia, he attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, on a scholarship with the famous 96 Guys and A Doll marching band. In 1967, he enlisted in the U.S. Army infantry and was selected for Officer Candidate School. Upon graduation from Infantry OCS in March 1968, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Two days after commissioning, he married his OCS sweetheart, Joan Smith. The new couple began their life adventure by heading to Fort Wolters, Texas, for Army Rotary Wing Flight Training. Cole deployed to Vietnam from July 1969-July 1970, flying 987 combat flight hours in the venerable UH-1 Huey. During a year of combat action in Vietnam, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Air Medal with numeral 26, and the Army Commendation Medal. Flying U.S. Army helicopters as an aircraft commander and instructor pilot, Cole completed his Army career (active duty and reserve) with more than 3,000 hours, earning the Army's highest aeronautical designation, Master Army Aviator and promotion to major. Cole began corporate life working for Boise Cascade in St. Louis, Missouri. With rapid promotions, he took his family to Kansas City, New York City and Chicago, where he worked for Continental Can as a regional sales manager. In Chicago, he founded his own business, PRI Group and The Recruiting and Search Report. He was accepted into the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business Executive MBA program, graduating in 1983. His published works include "The Headhunter Strategy (John Wiley & Sons)," "The Executive Search Research Directory" and "The Euro Directory." Cole's articles on executive search, search research, and related subjects have appeared in more than twenty-six national publications. As an Executive Recruiter, he consulted for diverse corporations such as SiriusXM, Lucent Technologies, Perrigo, United Copper, and others. He completed both U.S. and international assignments for senior executives around the world, including Japan, Singapore, Spain, and Germany. In 1984, Cole moved his family and business from the Windy City to their dream home (his childhood vacation destination) in Panama City Beach. Continuing his work as a publisher and consultant, he served as the official job hunting advisor to The Flag & General Officers Network (TFGON). As a speaker and senior executive job hunting coach & strategist, he accepted invitations to speak at graduate schools around the country, including Kellogg, Stanford, Columbia, University of Florida, and his alma mater, the University of Chicago. Throughout his career, he assisted thousands of senior executives, managers, and professionals in finding new positions through individual job campaigns, published resources, and seminars. He continued his work until a few weeks prior to his passing. Cole was an energetic, active member and leader at the Woodlawn United Methodist Church, where he freely dispensed smiles and encouragement to all he met. He loved to read to his grandchildren, canoe the Suwanee River, hike the Appalachian Trail, study the great works, exchange war stories with his sons and friends on the family's back deck (including fine cigars and libations), and enjoy every day of love and life with his wife. Cole is survived by his wife of 48 years, Joan Smith Cole, his brother, Richard (Pat), his sons Kenny (Dailah Mallary) and Cameron (Karyn Gaudy) and his 6 grandchildren: Hannah, Kenneth, Joseph, Ella, Mia, and Miles. Rest in peace, beloved husband, strong father, adoring grandfather, and friend of Jesus. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Woodlawn United Methodist Church for a new Educational Wing. Funeral services will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. in the Woodlawn United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends at the church from 9-10 a.m. prior to the service. Graveside services will be held on Monday at 11:30 a.m. in the Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola, FL. Wilson Funeral Home Family Owned Since 1911 214 Airport Road Panama City, Fla. 850-785-5272
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