Wanda V. Cole

Wanda V. Cole passed away at home March 20, 2021, surrounded by family. She was born Jan. 11, 1939, in Madill, Okla., to Maurine and Lloyd Thomas, now deceased.

Wanda moved from Oklahoma to La Center in 1955, and graduated from La Center High School in 1957, where she met the love of her life, Paul Cole. They were married Feb. 28, 1959, and enjoyed 62 years together. She was dearly loved by her family and considered herself to be an “Okie” her entire life. Some may have fondly observed her using her walker, which had an Oklahoma license plate attached.   

Wanda and Paul raised a family of five, instilling a commitment to family and a strong work ethic. She loved making memories for her family and could do anything she set her mind to, including sewing wedding dresses, decorating wedding cakes, painting, baking, and gardening. Her children marvel at the fact that she could take five plus children camping and still have a smile on her face! She was a mother to anyone who needed one and would welcome any of her children’s friends into her home with a meal and a hug.

After her children were school age, Wanda returned to the work force. She began her career as a Para Educator for the Vancouver School District. She loved working with children and enjoyed the challenge of gently but firmly guiding youth and their families to be the best that they could be. She then advanced to a clerk position for the warehouse at VPS, and then as a secretary for Fir Grove Children’s Center.

Wanda was an active union member for VAESP and worked diligently to ensure fair and equal pay, as well as, a safe working environment. She retired from the district in 1995.

After retiring, Wanda and Paul moved to Ocean Park, Wash., where they were active in advocating for seniors and in the building of the Senior Center. They made lasting friendships while at the coast and enjoyed visits from friends, family, and traveling.

They moved back to La Center in 2013, to be closer to family. She was a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother, and was frequently visited by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who brought her so much joy.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Jerry Thomas; and stepfather, Charles Olstad.

Wanda is survived by her loving husband, Paul Cole Sr. of La Center; daughter, Amy Chase (Rick) of La Center; son, Paul Cole Jr. (Kia) of Ridgefield; son, Andy Cole (Chrissy) of Camas; son, Dan Cole (Kim) of Vancouver; daughter, Ellen Haley (Dale) of Olympia; niece, Sherrie Lynn Thomas-Zlomke; 18 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren.

There will be a celebration of life in late spring/early summer. Date, time and location will be announced. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Cancer Society or Hospice. Her family would like to thank Kaiser Hospice staff for their support and compassion during this time.