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08/31/1942 — 09/04/2022
From West Richland, WAWatch Service
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Charles “Charlie” Ralph Cole, was born at home on August 31, 1942 in Canfield, Ohio to Ann Elizabeth
Vogel and John Orville Cole. Both parents had children from previous marriages which made for a large,
Charlie grew up in Berlin Center, a rural town in northeastern Ohio, where his dad worked for the Army
Corps of Engineers and helped build the Berlin Center Dam.
The family attended Berlin Center Methodist Church, where Charlie and his brother Johnny were
members of the choir.
When Charlie was 12 years old he was devastated by the sudden loss of his father at age 65, and while
he continued to attend church, he began to drift away from Jesus, believing that as long as he followed
the “golden rule” and was a good person he could earn his place in Heaven.
When Charlie was 15 he met Karen Decker when their schools had consolidated during their sophomore
years and their destiny together was set once they went to their first junior-senior prom together. Two
years later Charlie was class Valedictorian, and Karen was Senior Scholar, something she never let
They attended Kent State University where Charlie worked his way through college by living and working
on a small dairy farm. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics, and Karen with a
degree in Geology, in 1964. Shortly afterwards Charlie and Karen were married and moved to
Miamisburg, Ohio where Charlie started a job at Mound Laboratories.
The following summer they welcomed their first child, Heidi, in June while Charlie began work on his
Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics and later switched to Computer Science.
Unsatisfied with his job, Charlie was eager to find something different. An opportunity came in the form
of advertisement for 80 acres of forest land in Field and Stream magazine; which Charlie bought sight
unseen. Richland was “the closest place a guy with a Physics degree could find a job”, and in 1966 the
family moved to WA where Charlie would spend the next 36 years working for Battelle in the simulation.
His projects included reactor and railroad car design, the artificial heart program, Glomar Explorer
design, uptake and distribution models for radioisotope, and groundwater modeling. Charlie received an
R & D 100 award for In Situ Redox Manipulation in 1998, which was a career highlight.
Son, Russel, was born in July of 1967 and two years later the family began improvements on their
Colville property with the addition of a cabin built from the surrounding timber. Summers were spent
horse-back riding and fishing on the panoramic land of Stevens County. Charlie enjoyed and participated
in many outdoor sports and activities, but his passion was ice hockey.
Heidi married Randy Fisher in 1990 which was the beginning of great and glorious things in their lives.
Charlie and Karen happily became grandparents to Auri in 1994, and to Kayla in 1997. It was with the
birth of Kayla that their “glorious walk with Christ” began.
Heidi invited them to come to South Hills Church (then First Baptist) which started as more of a social
thing for Charlie, but Jesus and His church began their work in him. The small seed that was planted took
root and the Lord led him to recognize that his reasoning of being a good person and living by the
golden rule would not earn him a place in Heaven. Only faith in Christ, who gave His life for Him, was the
After choosing to be baptized Charlie became a mighty servant for God, cheerfully volunteering in
AWANA, the Levi Ministry, VBS, MOPS, Middle and High School Ministries, leading a small group Bible
study, and helping wherever he was needed in the church, where he was valued as a jack-of-all-trades.
Charlie’s favorite worship hymn “He Loves Me” (by Tommy Walker) because he said the, “Holy Spirit
grabs him and tears of happiness and joy flow down his cheeks as he tries to sing” the following words…
“He loves me, He loves me
I can really say I know
And I love him, I love him
I want to let the whole world know”
Charlie was welcomed into Heaven on September 4, 2022 at the age of 80. He was preceded in death by
his siblings, Margret Cole, William Cole, Helen Cole, Louise Cole, Gloralee Cole and Ralph Cole. He is
survived by his wife Karen, children Heidi (Randy), Russel (Sheryle), sister Cherie Smith and brother John
Cole, grandchildren Auri and Kayla, and great granddaughter Mia.
A Celebration of Life will be held on January 19th at 1PM at South Hills Church in Kennewick, WA.
He’ll be missed.
Icons live forever! For the Gupta family, you are and will remain a legend for generations. Thank you for taking us under your wings as we navigated the path to becoming Americans. A brilliant scientist, a friend of our father, a guide to all things nature, a beautiful soul who loved all, an example to model our lives by, a person to be cherished and missed!
It was shocking to get the news that Charlie was no more. For more than 50 years, we have worked together on complex groundwater systems. Charlie was immensely knowledgeable, expert at his work. But more than that, he was a friend and brother. I got to know Charlie at PNL where he was to shadow me at all times, till I got my green card. Quickly we became close family and our interactions continued over the years through our kids and grandkids. I miss talking to him, his humor, his quick wit. Rest In Peace my friend.
Dear Karen, Heidi, Russell and family—it is sad to dwell on the fact that Charlie is no more. Charlie blessed our dad and family with love, friendship and so much more. He was like a brother to dad, and was one of few people that impacted dad’s life in so many positive ways. Charlie’s smile was ever ready, he was always full of energy and enthusiasm for life. He will live on in our memories forever. May his love and memories always surround you and comfort you.
Love and hugs
I have known Charlie. Since High School. He was a year ahead of me but we went to the same Church, played football on WRHS first team and spent summers competing to see who could pick the most quarts of strawberries a day. Good friends back then. Was a really good guy! I’m proud to call him my friend! Rest In Peace my frien. My deepest sympathies to Karen and the family.
Hard to believe Charlie is gone. I will also be 80 in a few months. It was always a joy to work with Charlie when I started at PNNL in 1980. He was a happy guy and fun to be around. He helped in my early career days at PNNL. As time went by we worked less together as my work scope moved to other areas at PNNL. I think the last time I saw him and talked to him was 2010 or 2011. He made work at PNNL seem like a fun adventure and so it was. I miss him, but I think I will be seeing him soon. Charlie was also sometimes a jokester. We were on a flight together headed to the eastern USA. The flight attendant was counting passengers saying 45, 46, 47, 48 and so on. As she passed by my seat and his seat nest to mine, he starting counting 88, 89, 90, 24, 33, 77, et cetera. Yes, the flight attendant lost count so she had to start over. Charlie felt bad about that and he didn’t say another thing when the flight attendant passed by a second time to do the count. I think he felt guilty.
Charlie was a groundwater modeler, and I was a surface water modeler at a national laboratory. He was the greatest groundwater modeler I have known, and I always trusted his grasp of the contaminated groundwater movement toward the Columbia River at the Hanford Site in eastern Washington State. He was a morning person and I am a night person. Many times I was modeling through the night. When Charlie came to work at 6 a.m., that was a signal for me to go home. His smile was so warm. Thank you, Charlie. To his family, please accept my deepest sympathy.
I began working with Charlie in 1987 at PNL. He was an accomplished groundwater modeler. On several occasions we would be working away on models and presentations at the lab well past midnight prior to trips to DC. “The plane doesn’t leave until 6,” Charlie would always say. He was entertaining to work with.
I worked with Charlie from 1969 until he retired from Battelle. Charlie was a hard worker and always pleasant with a great smile and a twinkle in his eyes. I will miss Charlie. I offer my condolences to Karen, Heidi, Russel and their families.
My sister and Karen were best friends and went to school with Charlie. I was a year younger, but in a small school some classes were only offered every other year, so I was in some of their classes. The higher math classes were only about 10-12 students even though that was for 2 grade levels. I treasure the memories of my school years. My prayers are with your mom and the entire family regarding your loss.
I will miss Charlie dearly. He was a great friend and was always so encouraging. He liked to joke around and his smile always infectious. I remember when he accepted Jesus at men’s getaway, it was so exciting to see him lightup like a bright star, he was so happy. Until we meet in the air brother…💯 ❤️
I enjoyed growing up with you as a bonus grandpa and have many great memories of spending time with you and your family. You even took the time to tutor me in math, and for that I’m forever grateful. I will truly miss all the fun stories and anecdotes, as well as working on puzzles with you, Grandma June and Karen. Sending all my love to your family, you are dearly missed.