On October 16, 1960, Raymond and Mary Eunice Cole promised to love, honor and cherish each other.
Sixty years later, they have kept that promise and should have added “serving the community” to their vows.
Their’s is the classic love at first sight story. They met at the old Saint Elizabeth’s Catholic Church where Mary Eunice, then 15-1/2, was playing the organ. Three days after she turned 18, they were married in the same church among many friends and family.
After beginning their lives as hopeful newlyweds, they welcomed their first child, Raymond E. Cole, Jr. God sent them a special child to jump start this small family into overdrive - and God’s influence continues to be the guiding influence to this day.
Raymie was the oldest of four natural siblings, Chris Cole, Louis P. Cole and Mary E. Cole McClellan and he was disabled from birth. Together, with God as their guide, they navigated through life caring for their children, especially their oldest angel, Raymie, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the community at large.
Living a life of service came easy to them because the answer to the calls for help has been, “Yes, Lord.”
When there was no school for Raymie, they took it upon themselves to establish and bring into the community the Coahoma County Training Center – which was later taken into the public school system – for the more profoundly-affected disabled children. Their children were all included in the endeavors of rounding up support, even going so far as to attend gatherings in all churches around the county and neighboring counties to garner support for this special school. Many hours were spent on the road and in the front of crowds to raise awareness and funding for this project.
Raymond and Mary Eunice have not only grown up in Clarksdale and raised their children here – but they have given back along the way.
Raymond worked at Wonder Bread for over 42 years, representing bakery workers as their liaison to the Bakery and Confectionary Workers union, is currently an active board member for the Aaron E. Henry Health Center and is active in the Knights of Columbus. Seldom is there a Clarksdale City Council meeting where Raymond is not participating.
Together, Raymond and Mary Eunice enjoy delivering Meals on Wheels to the homebound, driving countless friends to doctors’ appointments and they have teamed up with many Delta businesses, friends, and local hunting clubs to host a world-class Wounded Veteran Deer Hunt in Bolivar and Coahoma County.
Somehow, Mary Eunice found time to write a well-received book entitled “Raising Raymie: Lessons in Love and Joy” in 2018 as a tribute to Raymie after his passing. This book was written to help parents and caregivers understand the joy of having a child with disabilities and to give them encouragement from the many lessons Raymond and Mary Eunice have learned along the way. In fact, each of the siblings contributed their own stories of growing up with Raymie from each of their perspectives. Last year, they were invited to speak in Colorado Springs, at a convention for families of children with Chromosome 18 syndrome, the same condition that Raymie had.
Sixty years of love, dedication and service to family, friends and the community has brought them together and has seen them through the good times and the bad. They have been blessed with four children, eight grandchildren and countless others that call them “Nonie and Pop,” despite not being related by blood.
Together, with a strong Catholic Christian foundation, they continue to make a wonderful team that often leave the world laughing – and better for having known them. The saying that “they’ve never met a stranger” could not be more true. If you see them around town on Friday or any day this week, please wish them well and continued health and happiness as they serve our community.