Thomas Phillip Edward "Tom" Cole

Birth Date: 
Friday, July 6, 1945
Date of Passing: 
Thursday, August 27, 2020

“Together Again”

Thomas Phillip Edward (“Tom”) Cole was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, the second son of renowned hotelier J. William Cole and Odette Borde dePampellone Cole, and grew up in the several locations to which his father’s career took him. He went to the High School of Charleston, S.C., and always considered Charleston his home. He also had his first job in the kitchens of the Francis Marion Hotel and met Mary Catherine Tyler, his wife-to-be, while in high school.

He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Political Science, lettered in Tennis and Fencing and was a member of several university organizations. During college, he was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity and worked as a Hill Room waiter and front desk clerk at The Carolina Inn. Prior to his graduation, he was recruited by the CIA and was involved in their operations for many years. His government work was aligned with his various assignments in the hospitality industry which took him around the world, with special postings in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

Initially trained as a chef, his career assignments included senior hotel management positions with Hyatt, Fairmont, Registry (HMC), Omni, the Carlson Companies and Benchmark Hospitality International. His postings included positions in major US cities, outstanding resort locations, Hawai’I, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia with frequent trips to various European and Middle East locations. During his career, he was the General Manager of an internationally renowned resort (Don CeSar Beach Resort, St. Pete Beach, Florida) and a historic downtown hotel (Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio) among other world class venues. While managing a ski resort in Durango, Colorado, he became an avid skier and he and his wife, Catherine, began a hobby of raising Anglo-Arab horses. He also loved sailing and sailed the Caribbean from Antigua to Barbados in a 41 foot Gulf Star ketch.

He was posted for ten years in Bangkok, Thailand as Vice President, Asia-Pacific for Benchmark Hospitality International, with project responsibilities in Hong Kong, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. He was appointed as a consultant to the Xiamen (China) International Conference & Exhibition Center and represented the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) in Southeast Asia and China. While in Thailand, he was seconded by the CIA to the Royal Thai Armed Forces Intelligence Service with the brevet rank of Colonel and made frequent trips into Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia and the Golden Triangle.

His close association with the Thai Royal Family encouraged him to author a book, “A Brief History of Siam” which was widely distributed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. He retired from the CIA and Benchmark Hospitality in 2003 and was appointed General Manager of the conference facilities on the Wooster campus of The Ohio State University (OARDC) until his retirement in 2018.

During his hospitality career he earned the Certified Hospitality Administrator (CHA) and Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) designations from the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Educational Institute and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the University of Phoenix. He also served as an officer and / or director of more than two dozen civic and professional organizations, including the Association Internationale de Professionnels de Tourisme (SKAL), the Chaine des Rotisseurs and the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). He chaired the “Visit USA” Committee for the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and was awarded a Kentucky Colonelcy while working in Louisville. He was the recipient of many civic and professional awards, including the prestigious Pyramid Award from the International Association of Conference Centers, and has contributed many articles for industry publications.

He first joined Rotary International in 1969 as a member of the Hilton Head Island, SC club and was a member of the Rotary Club at many of his locations during his career. He was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by the VanLandingham Rotary Club of Hilton Head Island in 1987 for his work with Rotary and other community organizations.

In Wooster, he served on the Board of Directors and as the Auction Manager for the Rotary Club of Wooster. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Board of Trustees of Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties. He was Chair of the Goodwill Board in 2011-2012.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Robert William Cole, and his beloved wife of 48 years, Mary Catherine Taylor Cole. He is survived by their daughter Tanya Elizabeth Cole of Atlanta, GA, their son Phillip Tyler (Maria) Cole and two grandchildren, Jonathon Tyler Cole and Eleni Sophia Cole of Greenville, SC, and his brother Edward G. Cole II, of San Antonio, Texas along with several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Memorial Mass will be held at a later date.

McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster is assisting the family.

At the request of the family, and in lieu of flowers, they suggest that contributions be made to Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties, PO Box 1188, Wooster, OH 44691 or to St. Mary Catholic Church, PO Box 109, Wooster, OH 44691.

Online condolences may be left for the family at

Memorial Contributions: 

At the request of the family, and in lieu of flowers, they suggest that contributions be made to Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties, PO Box 1188, Wooster, OH 44691 or to St. Mary Catholic Church, PO Box 109, Wooster, OH 44691.


A memorial mass will be held at a later date


I have fond memories of both Tom and Catherine.He will be missed.

I recently traveled to El Salvador with Tom and he was the rock of our trip, in so many ways. He entertained the students with his many travel stories, and provided the example of how to authentically and humbly engage with those we were working with. He was a giant of a man, and I will miss him.

Dear Tonya I am so sorry to be reading this about your father! Your dad has had quite an exciting life with many accomplishments. I always enjoyed seeing the photos of you and him on your travels around the world. So happy that you both had those special memories ❤️ Sending my condolences to you and you family during this difficult time! Love Susan

I will cherish all the memories of tom and Catherine I am very Honored to have known such awesome people many hugs and prayers to the family high my friend much live

We are so very sorry to hear that Tom passed away. He was such a wonderful soul who always looked for the best in everyone he came across. He will be so missed by all. May he rest in peace and dance with Catherine now knowing they are again together~

Deepest condolences Tanya & Phillip. He & Catherine were very special people. RIP.

Dear Tonya:
We are so sorry to learn about your father. He was so much fun to be with, always had a good story, and so supportive of whatever project was happening at the time. He will be greatly missed.

To My Dear Beloved Fellow Word Lover and Friend Tom
For nearly half a century I was, am and will forever remain your friend, my constant current regret will be the missing the sound of your voice each Sunday with a Mirabile Dictu as greeting when we had our weekly chin wag over what was happening in our lives.

Also to Philip, Maria, Jonathan, Lainey and Tanya having known both your parents have made my life and that of my sisters who knew them as well so much better.

We must celebrate with joy the experience of having had them on this earth while we did, Catherine and Tom are now together again and can now visit with my late wife Celina.

Tom and Catherine will forever remain immortal to those of us who loved them and experienced the humor, joy and shared tribulations of this mortal coil and their immortality remains as our beloved memories of them and- in that- we should rejoice just because God granted us the ability to have them be a part of our lives and us a part of theirs during this journey on earth having a human experience as our Spiritual being.

Amor Vincit Omnia
Mirabile Dictu
Ton Ami Fidel
Benedicamus Domino
Deo Gratias

To my Dearly Beloved Fellow word love and Great Friend Tom

We have known each other for nearly a half century and I was then, am now and will forever remain your friend. Our shared love of words was a bond that expanded over the years and we enjoyed each other's company when he and Catherine would visit us in Chicago and we would share so many of the fine wines we all enjoyed and the wonderful conversations that naturally ensued.

My sisters, Genie, Ida and Carrie also were devastated by the news and knew both of them as they visited me in Lancaster, SC after I moved South when my beloved wife Celina who so enjoyed both Tom and Catherine's company in our wine cellar as she knew that when they came the Grand Cru Classee would come out and we would enjoy only the best of wines for their visits.

To Philip (Maria) and Tanya we are almost envious of having them as parents and Jonathan and Laney as grandparents, they were truly wonderful people.

Both of their immortality will forever remain in our memories and while I shall miss hearing his voice on the Sunday phone calls to share what was going on in our respective lives and the cheery greeting of Mirabile Dictu, he lives forever in our hearts.

Please know that we were privileged to know them and share a portion of their lives in this human form while we were all having that mortal experience as Spiritual beings moving on.

Love to all of the Loved ones affected including Mr. & Mrs Ed Rabin her sister

There should be a recognition of the joy that we shared along with the trials and tribulations along the way.

Amor Vincint Omnia
Mirabillle Dictu
Ton Ami Fidel
Benedicamus Domino
Deo Gratias


I was so sorry to read about Tom's passing. Tom and I worked together at the Wayne County Historical Society. When Tom portrayed Angus McDonald for the 2019 Ghost Walk Through History, he looked the part and studied so much he provided wonderful information about this gentleman from Wayne County's history.
Tom and I had wonderful conversations and even had plans for who he would portray in the next Ghost Walk Through History.
Please know Tom will be missed by all of us who had the pleasure of getting to know him.

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