Dr. John Rufus Cole, Jr., a humble Southern Gentleman, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on August 30, 2019.
John was born in Albany, Georgia in 1938, reared in Baconton, and was the son of Mildred and John Cole, Sr. He attended schools in Baconton and Camilla, was an Eagle Scout, and graduated from Mitchell County High School in 1956 where he served as Senior Class President.
John then attended the University of Georgia where he received his BS, MS, and PhD (Triple Dawg) degrees in Medical Microbiology in 1966. While at the university, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and met his lovely wife Judy DuPriest, with whom he just celebrated 55 years of marriage. Upon graduation from UGA, they moved to Tifton, Georgia where he worked for 32 years as a veterinary microbiologist for the University of Georgia Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine retiring in 1998 as Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology. Dr. Cole was active in many medical and scientific organizations, publishing books and scientific journals. During his career he received numerous awards including the Walter Barnard Hill award for University Public Service, UGA, 1993. Dr. Cole was always active in the laboratory and enjoyed assisting veterinarians around the state in diagnosing and treating actively infectious diseases for livestock and other animals.
John had a true passion for the family farm, Pretty Pond and Lena B. Jackson Farms, in Mitchell County. He loved and cared for that land and the wildlife that inhabited it; enjoying many days in the woods with his family and friends in pursuit of wild bobwhite quail, burning woods, or just riding around talking about the pecan crop, timber prices and how much rain we had or had not gotten. Throughout his life he owned many bird dogs and horses, too numerous to name, that provided him great joy and companionship. This land he loved is a part of him and his legacy. He took great pride in its conservation and his heritage.
John loved the Tift County Blue Devils and the University of Georgia Bulldogs and was a member of the Gridiron Secret Society.
John was also active in the Tifton community serving as the local president of the Tifton Kiwanis Club and later serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Kiwanis for Georgia. He was president of the Tift County High School Booster Club, a member of the First United Methodist Church and the Ann Smith Searchers Sunday School Class. He was active in the American Heart Association, the Boy Scouts of America and served on the SunTrust Bank Advisory Board.
Upon retirement from science, John became active in farm and commercial real estate in Southwest Georgia but mostly John and Judy spent their time in and between Albany and Atlanta attending their grandchildren's football, baseball and basketball games, dance recitals, golf tournaments, grandparent's days, graduations and just about anything their grandchildren may be participating in. Nothing made them happier. He also recently started piano lessons at the age of 80 after a 65 year hiatus.
John is survived by his loving wife Judith DuPriest Cole, son John (Jay) Rufus Cole III, (Christie) of Albany, Ga, daughter Rae Cole Knox (John O.) of Atlanta, Ga., grandchildren John Rufus Cole, IV, Fort Worth TX, Virginia Madden Cole, Augusta, GA, Mariana Cole Knox, Atlanta, GA, Harriet McEachern Knox, Athens, GA and John O. Knox III, Atlanta GA.
A special thanks to his nurses, companions and caregivers Larry, Carolyn, Marilyn, Karen, Maritza and James.
Funeral services will be announced later and will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Tifton with interment to follow at Mt. Enon Church and Cemetary in Baconton, Georgia.
The family will receive friends at a date and time to be announced later.
In lieu of flowers those desiring may make memorial donations to the First United Methodist Church of Tifton, 107 West 12th Street, Tifton, GA 31794; First United Methodist Church of Baconton, 187 East Walton Street, Baconton, GA 31716; or Mt. Enon Church and Cemetery, Stagecoach Road, Baconton, GA 31716.
You may offer condolences to the family at the online guest registry at www.bowen-donaldson.com
. Services for the Cole family are under the care and direction of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals.
Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals is in charge of arrangements.