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COLE, Myrtle Alma
1934 – 2021
Myrtle Alma Cole was born the fourth child out of six to Ted and Alma Risto on November 23, 1934.
Her early childhood years were spent on a farm outside of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, where she and her siblings worked hard together to provide for the family. They spent many hours cleaning the barn, tending to the large garden, milking cows, and haying.
Every morning, the family would gather for family devotions. Even if there wasn’t time for breakfast, they never missed devotion time. Her parents were intentional about spending time as a family around the dinner table, teaching their children how to manage money, work hard and be responsible.
Bible Camp was also a big part of her life. Myrtle had many fond memories of attending camp, the most significant being when she gave her life to the Lord around 7 years of age.
When Myrtle was in grade 4, her Grandpa Risto passed away. It was decided that she would go live with her grandmother in town to help and be a companion for her. The six years she spent living with her Grandma Risto deeply impacted her; her grandma became a mother figure to her, she learnt valuable life skills such as baking, sewing, cooking and reading the Bible under her Grandmothers’ tutelage. Many old folks would come visit them, and Myrtle developed a love for the elderly that would shape her later career choice.
After she graduated, Myrtle got a job as a telephone operator. After a few years, she decided she wanted to learn more about the Bible and took a leave from her job to attend the Baptist Leadership Training School in Calgary. During a youth event there was when she met Art Cole for the first time, who was attending SAIT University. After returning to work, Myrtle felt a burden to share the gospel with people who didn’t know the Lord and looked at a career change that would provide more opportunities to do so. She debated being a policewoman but was convinced by a friend to join God’s Invasion Army, a one-year program in the States that trains young people in mission work. Around this time, Art telephoned her, and Myrtle decided to “give him a whirl.” After they went on a drive to visit some of Art’s family, Myrtle knew he would be the one she would marry. She kept his picture with her when she left for the Invasion Army and waited for him to write, which he eventually did a few months later. She responded with a letter she had written out on toilet paper, the only affordable thing she could find. About a month before the program ended, Myrtle had to cut her time with the Invasion Army short and return home for her Grandma Risto’s funeral. Art met her at the airport, and they continued their relationship. She returned to her work as a telephone operator and on December 21st, 1957, they were engaged. They got married nearly a year later, on October 17th.
Myrtle had a blue blouse and black skirt and blazer going-away outfit, which she was proud to put on every year, and even wear to their 60th anniversary celebration. After the honeymoon she moved into the house Art had built in Brownfield, Alberta and with some leftover wedding gift money bought drapes that went to the floor and a kitchen rug, which was quite the sensational décor choice for the Brownfield area and caused a bit of a stir amongst the neighbours. Their first year married was a very dry year. Hardly anything was growing. Her father came to visit and dropped a box of groceries off and said, “Good luck, I hope you make it”. They spent the next 50 years on the farm, not only “making it” but turning it into something that supported their four kids and still runs today. They started out running chickens and pigs and custom feeding cows. Myrtle grew her chickens up to 1,000 and ran a successful egg business. She gathered, washed, and candled everyone by hand.
Myrtle enjoyed being a mom and supporting her kids in their individual dreams. She also believed and lived that you should help and serve others. More often than not, there was someone extra at their dinner table, from friends of the kids to someone needing a place to stay for a few weeks to a few months.
In 1979, Myrtle was able to use her passion for the elderly and started working at the Nursing Home and Auxiliary Hospital in Coronation as the Recreation Supervisor. She worked there for 16 years. She also volunteered as an explore leader for young girls, helped with youth groups and sporting events and was actively involved with supporting Gull Lake Centre. She attended family camp there, served as a cook for a summer and helped with workdays.
Myrtle also kept up with her love for travelling. They would take many trips by motorhome, sometimes with no destination or time restrictions in mind. In her lifetime Myrtle travelled to every State except 5, and to 24 countries—often doing mission work. In 1999, they officially retired from farming and relocated to Camrose to be closer to Myrtle’s childhood home, but they didn’t slow down too much. Myrtle kept up her love for volunteering, getting involved with many boards and organizations from Senior programs to museums to modeling cars and old fashion clothing for charities. They also hosted many foreign exchange students from the university a few blocks away and later visited many in their home countries. Myrtle and Art would often be seen on the walking paths in Camrose, holding hands as they did their daily exercises. They walked and excised together until the day she was admitted to the hospital.
Myrtle shared, the hardest thing she had to walk through was losing her daughter Faye in 2018.
After 50 years of farming, 63 years of faithful marriage, Myrtle leaves behind a legacy of four kids, 16 grandkids and 23 and counting great-grand kids. They will miss her shortbread cookies at Christmas and her inspiring, stylish taste.
Memorial Donations gratefully received by the charity of donor's choice.
Condolences may be sent or viewed at www.coronationfuneralhome.ca. Arrangements in care of Coronation Funeral Home, Coronation, Alberta. Phone: 403.578.2928.