Mary Ruth Cates Cole

Published 4:51 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mary Ruth Cates Cole, 89, a native of Carter County, Tenn., passed away peacefully on March 20, 2017, at Johnson City Medical Center. She was a 14-year survivor of a massive hemorrhagic stroke. She had been a resident at Pine Oaks Assisted Living for almost nine years but recently moved to Hillview Health Care for rehab/nursing after a fall which resulted in surgery.
Mary Ruth was born May 16, 1927 in Hampton, Tenn., to J.R. Cates and Mattie Hyder Cates. She graduated from Hampton High School and attended East Tennessee State University. She was never one to have hobbies. Instead, she stayed busy with raising her children, working in the church, and teaching school. Most of her teaching years involved instructing students with special needs for which she had a real passion. She was an avid writer and had served as correspondent for newspapers in Tennessee, West Virginia and Texas. She has written hundreds of poems, some of which have been published.
After her stroke, she had sight, hearing, and short-term memory deficiencies, but she was always more concerned about someone else’s needs than being troubled about her own. At Pine Oaks, she enjoyed doing a card ministry for the residents and staff.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Buford I. Cole, a Christian Church minister whose ministries took them to Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas and Mississippi. Mary Ruth was always an active worker in the churches they served doing everything from directing Vacation Bible Schools, leading women’s groups, serving as church secretary, and working in church camps.
She was also preceded in death by a daughter, Wilmena Jane Cole; a granddaughter, Emily Nicole Flinders; brothers, Roy Cates, Clyde Cates, Ray Cates, Jim Cates and Harry Cates; and sisters, Edith Cates Hyder and Mildred Cates Jamison.
She is survived by three daughters, Brenda (Dave) Sowers of New Lebanon, Ohio, Anita (Ken) Flinders of Elizabethton, and June (Hunter) Terry of Mountain City, and a son, B. Jansen Cole of Columbus, Ohio. Surviving siblings include Ethel Cates Wilson of Pinecrest and Sally Cates and Frank Cates, both of Hampton. Her five grandchildren include David (Sharon) Sowers, Sean (Shana) Sowers, Natalie (John) Brehm, Scott (Angie) Sowers and Mallory (Brad) Phlipot. She was blessed with 12 great-grandchildren who called her Mam Maw Cole.
The family would like to thank Dr. Richard Rolen and the hospitalists from his practice, and the staff at Pine Oaks and Hillview for their care and compassion to their mother. Appreciation would also like to be expressed to the Tuesday Ladies Calling Group from Grandview Christian Church who have visited her religiously.
For those wishing to make a memorial gift in lieu of flowers, the family has selected The School of Bible and Ministry of Milligan College, P.O. Box 750, Milligan College TN 37682.
Services for Mrs. Cole will be held in the Chapel of Peace of Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, with Aaron Wymer leading the memorial assisted by Heather Hoover, Scott Sowers and Sean Sowers. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 25, with the service beginning at 1 p.m. Interment will immediately follow at Happy Valley Memorial Park. The grandsons will serve as pallbearers. Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting and signing the guest book.
Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, is serving the Cole family. Office: (423) 542-2232. Obituary Line: (423) 543-4917.

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