A lifetime of service: Galen Cole dies at age of 94

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - One of Bangor's most well known veterans and philanthropists passed away Thursday night, surrounded by his family.

Galen Cole joined the Army at the age of 19 during World War II.

He earned a Purple Heart after he was wounded in an attack that killed several of his comrades.

After the death of his father, Galen Cole took over the family business "Cole Express" and always dreamed of owning a transportation museum.

He did just that in the 1980's when he bought the land on Perry Road in Bangor.

What started as a collection of a few of the family company's trucks grew to be a place that would house history for generations to come.

Through the Galen Cole Family Foundation, he dedicated his life to teaching children about the country's military history.

His walking stick program guaranteed that all veterans were honored for their service.

A memorial service will be held on January 25th at the Anah Shrine on Broadway in Bangor.

Galen Cole was 94.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins released the following statement Friday:

“There is no one in Maine who was a greater advocate for our World War II veterans than Galen Cole. From the military displays at the Cole Transportation Museum to the beautiful maple walking sticks that he distributed to veterans, he honored those who wore the uniforms of our country at every opportunity. Galen was responsible for educating countless schoolchildren about the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families.

“Galen not only was a patriot, he was also a well-respected business leader who built up his family’s successful transportation business.

“My husband Tom Daffron and I honor this great citizen and send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

U.S. Senator Angus King released the following statement on the passing of Galen Cole:

“Galen Cole lived the kind of life that defies description,” said Senator King. “Over the course of his 94 years, Galen was a public servant, a business leader, a philanthropist, a veteran, and much, much more. It’s impossible to summarize the totality of his contributions to Maine, but if there’s one thing I choose to remember about him, it’s this: Galen Cole helped people.

“Galen left behind so much for our state, from the Cole Land Transportation Museum to the Walking Sticks for Veterans Program – but above all, he left behind his example. For nearly a century, Maine benefited from his kindness and dedication – now, it’s up to us to follow in his footsteps, as his memory inspires us to treat each other with the same compassion that he showed to each and every person he met. As we honor his lifetime of service to our state, Mary and I are holding Galen’s family, friends, and loved ones in our thoughts.”

Governor Janet Mills released the following statement in honor of Galen Cole:

"After his valiant service in World War II, where he earned a Purple Heart for his bravery in defending his fellow soldiers and our country, Galen Cole dedicated his life to public service in Maine. Galen's contributions to our state are immeasurable, not only as Bangor's Mayor, but as a business owner, as founder of the Cole Land Transportation Museum, and, most importantly, as a life-long champion for Maine's veterans, particularly through his walking stick recognition program. On behalf of the people of Maine, I express my deepest gratitude for Galen's service to our state and nation and offer my condolences to his loved ones, fellow veterans, and the people of Bangor as they grieve and honor his memory."