Reuben D. Cole

Monday, January 08, 2018

Lebanon, N.H. — Reuben Davis Cole died in his sleep in the home he built with the help of his older brother, Stephen C. Cole, surrounded by his family on Thursday morning, Jan. 4, 2018. He was born on Oct. 29, 1924, at Elm Tree Farm on the Meriden Road in Lebanon, the son of Forrest B. and Lillian Child Cole. He was a fourth generation Cole to harvest crops, milk cows, and work the horses at the farm. He remembered the depression years of the 1930’s when Lebanon maintained a transient camp. The unemployed would knock on the farmhouse door looking for work and food. They sometimes found work but always found food.

He graduated from Lebanon High School in 1942 and attended the University of New Hampshire for one semester prior to joining the U.S. Army to serve his country in World War II. He served 34 months, 24 of which were as a Radioman with amphibious assault teams that directed naval gunfire on land targets in the Central and Southwest Pacific theaters. He was entitled to wear five Campaign Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead on his Asiatic-Pacific ribbon. After the war he returned to UNH to continue his studies and where he met his life-long sweetheart, Marjorie Fletcher, a native of Melrose, Mass. The two were married on Jan. 28, 1950 in Melrose. He would always say Marjorie was a good influence on him since he made the University’s Dean’s list only after he married her. He graduated in the spring of 1950 with a degree in Business Administration.

Reuben commenced his career in 1948 as a bank teller for Mascoma Savings Bank, working there his sophomore and junior summers. In 1950 he began full-time employment at the bank and did not retire until 1987, the last 20 years as its CEO & President. During his 39 years of employment bank assets grew steadily from under $4 million to over $139 million, and from one location to four. He was proud of the fact during his tenure all the key officers, with the exception of one, had originally been hired to fill vacant spots on the teller line, with only a high school education. He enjoyed being surrounded by bright and capable people and recognized the worth in others of experience gained from a rural environment. He enjoyed a good reputation for public and personal service and always insisted that bank employees had the latest in technology to help them succeed in the job and serve their customers. Mascoma Savings Bank was one of the first mutual savings banks in New Hampshire to calculate interest on deposits using computers. It was at his encouragement that the bank established the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation which has distributed, and continues to distribute, substantial sums of money to charitable causes throughout the Upper Valley.

During his working years he associated himself with a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, the Carter Community Building, the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center, Planned Parenthood of the Upper Valley, Lebanon College, the Boy Scouts of America, the Lebanon Outing Club, the National Ski Patrol, and particularly, the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation. He was a trustee for the First Congregational Church of Lebanon for 50 years and served as its Chairman of the Board and as its Treasurer. After retiring from Mascoma Savings Bank he served his city for 20 years as a member of the Board of Assessors. In 2004 he was named Greater Lebanon Chamber of Commerce Good Citizen of the Year.

In 1958, with more than ordinary assistance from his brother (a builder of many homes in the Lebanon area), he built a cottage in the Maine coastal community of Ocean Park. The cottage bears the name “Solla Sollew”, a place where they have no troubles, or at least very few, named after one of Dr. Seuss’ lesser-known books, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. This is where his wife and children spent their summers and it was his “Shangri-La” during summer weekends, vacations, and later in retirement. He enjoyed fishing and exploring the islands of Saco Bay.

Skiing played an important place in his life. He was for a number of years involved with teaching children to ski and was a coach of the Snow Crest and Whaleback Junior Federation Ski Teams. He grew Christmas trees for his church and friends. He was unsuccessful in teaching his wife how to drive a motorcycle and so could be seen from time to time tolling about with Marjorie on the buddy seat. He loved life and abhorred injustice. He had a knack for telling humorous stories to friends and family.

He will be remembered for his integrity and candor, his belief that all must take responsibility for making this a better world, and his zest for living each day to the fullest, meeting each new physical challenge with courage and humor. He will be remembered by his children and grandchildren as a role model whose expectations were high but whose love and support were unconditional.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 68 years, Marjorie F. Cole. Reuben is also survived by daughter Stephanie Cole Nelson and son Fletcher Scott Cole, and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brother, Stephen Child Cole, his only sibling.

At Reuben’s request, there will be no funeral or memorial service. Several years ago he chose to donate his body to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in hopes he can continue to contribute to the community even after his passing.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation or to the Lake Sunapee VNA & Hospice.