Mark A. Cole of Shelby, Montana succumbed to cancer and was welcomed into heaven on Thursday, July 14, 2022 at Benefis Peace Hospice in Great Falls with his faithful wife and two children by his side. He was 75.
Mark was born on July 4, 1947, in Forsyth, Montana. He was the youngest of three children born to Norris Edward and Margret Anna McKelvey Cole of Sanders. He grew up on the DE Cole Ranch with older siblings Norris “Mack” and Priscilla (Moorhouse). He attended both Forsyth High School and Hysham High School, graduating from Hysham in 1965.
After graduating, Mark attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for one year before transferring to Montana State University in Bozeman. He graduated from MSU in 1971 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.
Mark married his soulmate Barbara Jean (Tallent) on June 13, 1970. They celebrated their 52nd anniversary this year. Mark and Barb welcomed their first child, Jason, into the world on April 10, 1971. Two years later, they moved to Shelby, where they welcomed daughter Lara on March 30, 1974. In Shelby, Mark began a long career with trucking firm Dick Irvin, Inc. (DII) where he became part owner in 1986. Mark worked hard his entire life and did enjoy several years of retirement during which he focused on his passions of ranching and grandchildren.
Though Mark’s professional pursuits were focused on the trucking industry, he was a rancher at heart. In 1995, Mark and Barb moved outside of Shelby to Cole Redhorse Ranch, where they remained until his death. There, the couple bred quarter horses and were co-founders of the Montana Breeders Group, whose annual preferred horse sale at the Montana Expo Park became a Labor Day weekend staple. Mark loved to check on and take care of the angus cattle that the couple also raised.
Mark served on countless committees and boards throughout his professional life and beyond, including the Montana Motor Carriers Association (now the Montana Trucking Association), the Montana Contractors Association, the Montana Mining Association, the Grain Growers Association and many boards and committees within these associations. He was also involved with the Toole County Growth Council, was a founding member of the Northern Express Transportation Authority, the Montana Quality Dray Council, and an appointment in 2002 to the State Fund Board of Directors by then-governor Judy Martz. Mark participated in several trade missions into Alberta. Mark was working actively until the time of his death on the Judy Martz Memorial Statue Committee. When asked about Mark’s involvement with committees, boards, and leadership positions, Mark’s good friend, Curt Laingen responded, “It would be much easier to tell you what he wasn’t involved with!”
Mark loved the outdoors and found great joy in God’s creations. Some of his favorites included rainbows, sunrises, sunsets, rivers, mountains, and newborn critters. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, rafting, and camping with his kids and grandkids. Although Mark was extremely busy with his many work responsibilities, his children do not remember him missing any games or important events. He also was very passionate about watching the multitude of activities his grandchildren participated in. The internet made possible for him to watch many of these events remotely as it became harder for him to travel. While his children and grandchildren loved to update him on what had happened, it was rarely necessary since he had already watched.
Mark is survived by his wife Barbara, his sister Priscilla (John) Moorhouse of Billings, his son Jason (Melissa) Cole of Laurel, his daughter Lara (Ashley) Tait of Great Falls, and eight grandchildren: Anna, Logan, and Brady Cole, and Trayden, Trennen, Tallen, Tyrenn, and Taxten Tait. Additionally he is survived by numerous nephews and nieces and their families. He also leaves behind his faithful dogs Talitha, Pippa, Maddie B, and Francis.
Friends and family are invited to attend Mark’s Funeral Mass at 10 AM on Saturday, July 23. The Mass will be held at St. William Catholic Church in Shelby. A reception will follow at the Marias Valley Golf and Country Club. There will also be a Vigil on Friday, July 22nd at 7 PM at the Asper Funeral Home in Shelby.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, a donation in Mark’s name to the Great Falls Rescue Mission or the Sletten Cancer Institute would be appreciated.
Mark was always quick of wit, loved to give his friends and family nicknames, and of course enjoyed a good “tiddly”. God love us!