After a short illness, Mary Anne Cole passed away peacefully in Bremerton, Washington, on the evening of Oct. 1, 2016, with her children by her side. Mary Anne was born Oct. 13, 1931, in Baltimore, Maryland, to Frank and Mathilda Link. Her parents immigrated from Prussia and Alsace-Lorraine. In 1932, the family moved to Fairbanks and lived in the Kitty Hensley house, then located on Eighth Avenue. The house is situated in Pioneer Park and maintained by the Pioneers of Alaska, Women's Igloo No. 8. In 1933, the Links purchased a home on the east side of Fairbanks, where they resided until 1938, when Mr. Link built the family home on Dunkel Street. It was there that lasting friendships with the Arend, Crosson, Marlin and Nordale families were formed. Mary Anne belonged to a group of lifelong friends who spent their childhoods and early adulthoods in Fairbanks before statehood. Their "territorial" connection forged a special bond unique only to them. As a daughter of the territory, Mary Anne lived an idyllic childhood, enjoying skating on the Chena River, skiing on Birch Hill, summer swims in Harding Lake, picnics out on the creeks, and family events and dances at the old Eagles Hall. She especially loved telling stories of the Russian Lend-Lease pilots who always gave chocolate bars to her little sister, Francie. In 1981, Dr. Claus Naske wrote and published "Fairbanks: A Pictorial History" that contains pictures of a young Mary Anne and her family. Mary Anne graduated with the Class of 1950 from Fairbanks High School and traveled to Europe that summer with her mother and sister to visit relatives not seen since WWII. However, the summer trip lasted until November because of limited passenger service on the Atlantic liners due to the onset of the Korean War. Instead of attending the University of Alaska, she decided to enroll at the Metropolitan Business College in Seattle, where she met her future husband, Donald Gilbert. In 1952, they were married at the Immaculate Conception Church in Fairbanks. An 8-millimeter film of the wedding and reception is treasured by the family because it depicts members of the Pioneer Fairbanks families, who were guests. After Donald's college graduation, they settled in the Seattle area, where Donald was employed as an engineer for the Boeing company. Making their home in Burien, they raised five children. Mary Anne's Catholic faith was paramount in her life. The family were active members of St. Francis of Assisi Church, and their children attended Catholic schools. Mary Anne created a wonderful life for her children, who cherish their memories of her love for each one. She instilled in them the "old Fairbanks" virtues of industry, self-reliance and consideration of others. When her marriage ended, Mary Anne returned to college, earning a business degree. Her career with the Boeing company continued for 10 years. In 1980, she married John Cole, a Boeing accountant. They built a retirement home on Mason Lake, near Shelton, Washington, on property Mary Anne had owned since 1960. The "lake place" became the center for all family gatherings. In retirement, Mary Anne played golf and enjoyed many happy hours of bridge and pinochle. She was an active member of the Mason-Benson Club, serving as secretary for many years. Her volunteer work was legendary, especially at the annual flea market to raise money for charity. Mary Anne's legacy is reflected in her children, who always manifested their deep love and appreciation for her. They are her proudest accomplishments. She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Mathilda Link; her husband, John Cole; her brother- in-law, Richard H. Mears; and her niece-in-law, Vickie Mears. Survivors include her five children: Frank Gilbert (Cherm), of Manchester, Washington; Donna Rees (Max), of Portland, Oregon; Pamela Jamison, of Port Townsend, Washington; Teresa Gilbert, of Juneau; and Lisa Merz (Donald), of Edmonds, Washington. She also is survived by four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Also included are her stepchildren, Robert, Louise, Susan and James Cole, of Washington and Idaho. Marry Anne also is survived by her beloved "little sister," Francine Mears, of Fairbanks; and two nephews, Sean H. Mears of Washington, and Timothy Mears (Joyce), of Idaho. Services were held at St. Edwards Church in Shelton, Washington, on Oct 10, 2016, with burial afterward.
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