January 14, 1941 ~ October 3, 2021

Born in: Wichita Falls, Texas
Resided in: College Station, Texas

Virgil “Gene” Cole passed away peacefully at the Hospice of Brazos Valley in College Station Texas, following a brief illness unrelated to COVID. As a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, his inurnment will occur at the Houston National Cemetery. A private ceremony with family and friends will be held on site. Arrangements are being made by Callaway-Jones Funeral Home of Bryan, Texas.

Gene was a native son of Texas born in Wichita Falls as the only child of George Dewey Cole and Clara Inez (Van Horn) Cole. He graduated from the University of Houston in 1967 and then volunteered to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. While stationed in New Orleans, he supported the UCGS cutter White Alder. In 1968, the ship tragically collided with another vessel with a loss of 17 of the 20 crewmen aboard. Gene was working ashore and his life was spared, but the experience remained a painful memory. What sustained him was belief and practice of the core Masonic values of reverence for God, devotion to country, integrity, justice, tolerance, and service to humanity. For 26 years of his career, Gene worked in the pioneering medical imaging division of General Electric. He spent many of those years designing, installing, and servicing cardiac catheterization labs. As an expert in the emerging technologies of MRI and CAT scanning, Gene traveled the world installing these machines in hospitals located in such places as Prague, Stockholm, Madrid, Teheran, and major cities throughout the United States. The devices he installed and maintained have spared countless lives and prevented much suffering. Gene took his time in finding a wife and married Patricia (Steves) Cole in 1977. He remained devoted to her for the rest of his life. In retirement, they travelled around – living abroad in Ecuador and exploring the southwestern states in their recreational vehicle.

Gene will be remembered by friends and family by his ready laugh and indefatigable sense of humor. His skill in technology became a passion for photography and he especially enjoyed capturing images of wildlife in the natural surroundings. He also delighted in design and construction projects and his outdoor Christmas light display won a town award. Gene loved to share his knowledge and was a mentor to many who followed in his technical field. He also taught engineering fundamentals at community college.

Gene is survived by his wife Patricia Cole of College Station, Texas; his stepson Derek Schwarz of San Francisco, California; his brother and sister-in-law, Rory and Roslyn Steves of Mentor, Ohio; and his cousins, Betty Zimmerman and Milton Langston of Abilene, Texas.

All are welcome to view this photo slideshow tribute to Gene’s life.

In lieu of flowers, consider donating in Gene’s memory to Shriners Hospitals for Children. As a Master Mason and a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, this is an organization he supported and cared about deeply.


Inurnment: October 29, 2021 10:00 am

Houston National VA Cemetery
10410 Veterans Memorial Dr
Houston, TX 77038

(281) 447-8686

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  1. I will always savor the memories of the many long days and equally long nights working with Gene on Cine image quality for our GE customers and the VIP (Vascular Imaging Program). I cherish the stories he told and the many we created…least we never forget the DF 5000 and the Octel optical disk, VeriX 35mm film, Combilabor processor, and Vanguard projectors. Gene could always get more resolution out of a 3-field TH image tube if you just gave him a little more time…hence, a project with Gene was destined to be an extended adventure….but a learning one at that! Gene always had the latest and greatest tool for what ever we were working on. We would spend the first 30 minute of any customer site visit comparing such and who ever had the most, or the newest, or most unique won. Gene, you won. You will be missed.

  2. Gene Cole….how do I pay tribute to my special cousin. I remember him as a baby, such a long time ago. I watched as he grew into the fine gentleman he became, so intelligent, so creative, so considerate of others and the special bond we shared. I have many treasures that he and Pat so generously gave me through the years and which I will treasure so long as I live. REST IN PEACE, GENE. I love you and miss you.

  3. Gene was an inspiration and a good companion on our technical adventures. His indefatigable fund of technical knowledge, and humor made him an unforgettable friend. I learned what MTF was, (Modulation Transfer Function) and a host of other valuable skills from him. I have thought about him often in the years since I last spoke with him. Bon voyage!

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