Family Photo Album

In Loving Memory

Howard Kenneth Cole
1924 - 2002

Howard Cole, 1944 Left: Howard in 1944
Right: Howard in 2000
Howard Cole, 2000

There's no way to erase the sadness we all feel at the loss this summer of Howard Cole - brother, husband, father, uncle and friend. Howard fought valiantly for life and treasured each moment that he spend with his family. Many of us have wonderful stories about times we spent with Howard - and I'd bet most of them involve laughter. If you want to share your favorite stories as well, email me at jt@konopka-family.org and I will post your story here.

Stories of Our Times with Howard

When Howard came to visit in Pittsburgh, he usually stayed with Mil. But as soon as he landed, he'd always call me and set a "special date" with me to go to lunch together. He always made special time for you and in that way made you feel special. The first time, Howard & I really didn't know where to go, but he thought he might like Ligonier.

So I gassed up my little red Tracker, put the top down & picked up Howard early in the morning. We set off on our adventure and soon found ourselves singing, laughing, chating & happily discovering the beautiful fall countryside. I remember an odd thing . . . he'd always say "Hi, Girls" whenever we'd pass a heard of cows & wave to them like they were a group of beautiful women! After the third or fourth group of "girls" we passed, I started joining in, waving & saying "Hi" as well :)

We found quaint little shops in town & had a wonderful time buying & chatting with the local townsfolk. Howard had that wonderful way of making friends out of complete strangers. This wonderful ability that seems so prevelent throughout Ron's entire family, never ceases to amaze & delight me!

About lunch-time we found a great place called "The Mountain View Inn" and decided to go in. A lovely historic place with great ambiance & wonderful food. Howard loved it and so did I. After Howard made his famous "bow tie" tip for the waitress we set off again. Passing some more "girls" grazing in the pasture, we found ourselves at the Lenox factory outlet. Of course we had to go in & do some early Chrismas shopping!

We had an awesome day, so happy, so full of laughter & discovery. We decided to go again next visit. For years, when Howard came to town, he'd call me to set "our special date". I so looked forward to our trips to Ligonier . . . and I so miss it now. I haven't been back to Ligonier since Howard's gone. It wouldn't be the same. But I still say "Hi, Girls" to the cows in the pastures . . . I think of Howard, and smile.<
Linda Konopka (lindakono@netzero.net)

November 13, 2002 ~ Today would be Howard's birthday. He would have been 78. I have had him on my mind all day. I even sang happy birthday to him. I really miss him. I'm so glad he was my brother. I miss the chats we had on the phone, we'd end up laughing about the times we had as children. He was my buddy. Thanks for Howard. With love to him, sister Helen.
Helen Weisgraber (helen@konopka-family.org)

I really don't have much of a story to tell, it's more of a memory from when I was little and he came to visit. I always remembered Uncle Howard loving the California Angels (baseball team) and from when he told me this 25 years ago, I would look to see each year how they were doing and how they finish each year. Well . . . Uncle Howard they finally made it to the playoffs!!! I'll keep watching them for ya . . .
Ray Konopka (the younger) (RKon33@aol.com)

Our family memory of Uncle Howard . . . We always had such a nice time when Uncle Howard came to visit. He had so much patience with kids and was actually quite funny. I remember once when he visited us while living in Baldwin Boro, Pa, we took a drive up to Friends Dairy. Being used to California roads, he thought the two lane road was a one way street and made his own lane, when an oncoming car beeped and cursed at him he just politely and calmly said "Oh so sorry, excuse me". My kids, nephews and nieces always remember him as "Uncle Howard" the one who made bow-ties out of $1.00 bills. They just thought it was so neat. He always took the extra time to do something nice for you like; writing a little note in your Christmas card, teaching the kid's games and taking everyone out for ice cream. He will be missed but never forgotten. God bless you Uncle Howard.
Rhonda Konopka Gerber (sgerber@comporium.net)

I have so many to tell - some are sad - but I will only tell of the ones I hold dear to my heart. If I had my to live it over, I would never get mad at my brother - which we both did at times. I remember we went dancing with Mary in Bell Vernon, and had a great time. People would clap for us. On our way home we would sing and I'd sing the soldiers last letter. Make them cry. Howard would sing and we all were so still because he had a great voice. He sang one sunday in Pittsburgh on the radio and I got to go. You could vote for the contestant. I found ballets on the floor and put his name on them. In my heart he should have won. We were close when we were children and, no one better hurt my brother! When I was 17, he and I went to Florida. No one believed we were brother & sister because we got along so well. I want to call him and talk to him but can't on the phone. But he is never out of my mind or heart. He is saving a place for me up there I know. I have more stories I will add another time. I love him.
Helen Weisgraber (helen@konopka-family.org)

Uncle Howard and Aunt Helen were always like the carnival was in town when they came to our house. My earliest memories have them there. They were always laughing and dancing. They taught me how to jitter-bug when I was really small. There was a step called "the camel walk" that would make them laugh when I tried to do it. Uncle Howard would make pancakes and flip them over. I don't know if this really happened or we think it happened but one time he flipped the pancake and it stuck on the ceiling. We would have sing-a-longs and could sing for hours. When Uncle Butsy died Ronnie, Linda, Mom and Dad, Aunt Helen, Uncle Howard and I sang all the way home to PA from Connecticut. We couldn't even talk when we landed. There was always a homey, fun, and safe feeling around Uncle Howard. What ever problems we had somehow they didn't matter that much if we could laugh and sing. and dance.
Carol Teodori (wellcare@nb.net)

My all-time favorite memory of Uncle Howard . . .
He came to visit some-time in the 70's and stayed at our house. I was maybe 6 years old. Uncle howard took my family to dinnier at a place on Rt. 51 which became the "Funny Bone" and since then is gone. Uncle Howard and my Dad together provided for many laughs during dinner. Then desert came and Uncle Howard talked to the waitress but I could not really hear or understand what they were saying. Next thing I saw was this awesome ice cream desert that looked like a clown. The cone was upside down on the ball of ice cream and decorated with a clown face. Till this day I often wonder if Uncle Howard made a special request for me or it was the restaraunts specialty for kids. It doesn't matter because the excitement and happiness that Uncle Howard displayed will forever be with me!

Also during this trip, Uncle Howard brought a deck of cards for all five of us. Through-out his visit, he took the time (lots of time and patience) to teach each of us a different game of solitaire. I think my mom thought he was a God-send because her five children were finally sitting still and quiet and not arguing! After Uncle Howard was long gone the five of us continued to play solitaire and teach each other the different games. Even today my sister and I talk about double-solitaire and regular solitaire, the two games he took the time to teach. Uncle Howard was and still is one loving, caring and unique man. . . I am very thankful for having such great memories.
Tricia Konopka Cerro (Vivcerro@aol.com)

The Pied Piper comes for a Visit
It was April 1973, and Uncle Howard was visiting Helen in Norwich CT and took time to come to my son, Rob's 4th birthday party - voluntarily! Before long, Howard and all the kids were outside playing - along with more neighborhood kids than I knew we had. Howard was telling stories, and everyone was laughing and giggling. When I looked out the window - there was Howard leading a long line of happy kids around the yard, down the street and back - and all I could think of was the Pied Piper of Hamlin! I was grateful, especially since I really had no clue how to entertain a bunch of 4 - 7 yr olds. Howard made a hit with Rob, and all his friends. Long after the trip ended and Howard went home, the kids in the neighborhood were asking when he was coming back to play!
JT


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