Harlene Cole, 81, of Williston, passed away on Tuesday evening, September 17, 2019 at the Bethel Lutheran Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Williston.
Harlene Gail (Liesener) Cole was born on November 27, 1937 at her family home in Ray, ND to Ruth and Clarence Liesener, the fourth child of six. She was raised in Ray and learned to farm, tend animals, and garden in her early years. Losing her mother, getting married, assisting with the care of her younger siblings, and starting a family at a young age proved her to be reliable and extremely responsible. Even as a child, teenager, and young adult, friends and family remember her as dependable, witty, and immensely kind at heart.
Harlene enjoyed a 63-year marriage to Kenneth Cole, to whom to she was united in marriage on June 2, 1956. Harlene and Ken raised four children together: Lynn, Lana, Kendall “Pete,” and Kevin. It was the birth of her third child, Pete, that led her to be interested in fostering other children, as Pete needed to be educated a significant distance from home starting in Minot, ND where he was cared for by a foster family. Harlene was so grateful for Pete’s foster home, that she decided they needed to give back to their own community and children/families in need. This led Harlene and her family into fostering for a vast number of kids in need over a great number of years. Harlene embraced the challenges, love, joy, and blessings that fostering brought into her life, and she only hoped that she gave as much back to those she fostered as they gave to her.
Harlene also loved living life to the fullest extent, and she cherished being outdoors. The seasons didn’t matter as she played in the snow just as much as she enjoyed the hot summer days. She had many hobbies and always pushed for excellence in them, whether it was woodworking, gardening, bowling, playing cards (especially pinochle), playing softball or golfing – just to name a few. Those who knew Harlene can likely still hear her laughter, witty comments, and playful banter when they think back on their times enjoying these activities with her. Harlene simply made life “fun” for everyone around no matter what activity she undertook.
Over the years, she also enjoyed traveling and being involved in her community. She held several positions within the Foster Parent Association on the State and National Levels and traveled many places attending conferences. She worked alongside and served as the secretary for PATH for a number of years. She belonged to the Women’s Bowling Association and traveled to State and National bowling tournaments regularly. Golf was one of her most loved sporting events, and she traveled great distances in a day to participate in numerous events involving the sport. Harlene was athletic and enjoyed sharing these sports and events with her children and friends.
In addition to hobbies, traveling, and enjoying everything life had to offer, Harlene was also never afraid of hard work. From raising children and homemaking to working the fields and tending livestock, she kept very busy early in life. She was a great cook, making her creations from scratch, and she worked in the kitchen for several years at the Snow White drive-in in Ray. She attended college for a time at Minot State University and spent a summer with Ken in St. Mary’s, MT, processing banking, transporting young workers, and managing the grocery store for RB Inc. Upon returning and relocating to Williston, she worked for Chuck & Vickie Joseph at “Joseph’s Ready to Wear & Bridal.” She eventually found herself working for Community Action and Development which is where she was employed when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s forced her into retirement earlier than she desired. She then began traveling along with Ken daily as he performed odd jobs through his contracting business. Harlene and Ken were always together throughout the entirety of their devoted marriage. They were best friends until the very end. Her deteriorating state eventually found her residing at Bethel Lutheran Home early in 2015 under the care of the loving staff on the Wheatland wing. Ken was most often by her side, holding her hand.
Harlene prided herself in being a good role model to her siblings, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, to whom she taught kindness, compassion, perseverance, and faith in good things to come. Those who remember Harlene will remember her smile, her wit, her confidence, the bright light she brought to this world, and the differences she made.
Harlene is survived by her husband of 63 years, Ken Cole; children Lynn Renee Walter (Scott) of Gill, CO, Lana Raye Lynde (Steve) of Osage, MN, Kevin Cole (Alicia) of Williston, and Pete Cole of Williston; grandchildren Isaiah, Ravae , Lane, Shane, Joshua, Judit, Robert, Travis, Destin, Cameron, Raeyn, and Jarren; great-grandchildren Brooke, Logan, Natalie, Easton, Camden, Axton, Aislinn, Ben, Kylie, Brooklyn, Addison; countless foster children, including Sheila, Charissa, Jana, Jeri, Kelly, Anthony, Joseph (just to name a few); brothers Donald Polson (Dorothy) and Milan Liesener (Carol); sisters Dolores Olson (late Donald), Lorena Brackey, and Gloria Norby (Carl); and numerous nieces and nephews.
Harlene was proceeded in death by her mother Ruth (May 1957) and her father Clarence (January 1981) whom she longed to be the first of her siblings to see again, as well as numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.