Betty Cole Grohne, the mother of Durango resident Nanc Cole, died of bile-duct cancer Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, at her home in Decatur, Ill. She was one month shy of her 93rd birthday.
Known as “Betty,” she was born to Italian immigrants Narcisis and Edith Bianchi on Jan. 1, 1920, in Michigan. She graduated from Calumet High School in 1938 and from Chicago’s Ravenswood School of Nursing in 1941.
After her graduation, she married Homer Cole in Chicago. In 1947, they moved to Macon, Ill., to raise their three children. Mr. Cole preceded her in death after 23 years of marriage in 1971.
Mrs. Cole began working as a nurse at Decatur and Macon County Hospital in 1955, when her youngest child started school. She worked her way up to associate director of nursing, where she remained until her retirement in 1977. During her tenure, she was responsible for the creation and operation of the Pediatric, Oncology and Cardiac Care units.
While working full time and caring for an extended family, Mrs. Cole earned a bachelor of science from Milliken University in 1964 and a master’s degree in health-care administration from Sangamon State University in 1975.
In 1977, she married Karl Grohne in Decatur. He preceded her in death in 2006 after 29 years of marriage.
Mrs. Cole began volunteering for the Macon County Unit of the American Cancer Society in 1947, serving three terms on its board of directors and two years as president. She was also active with many other community agencies, including the American Tuberculosis Society, now the American Lung Association, the Mental Health Association and the Alcoholism Council. In 1991, she was nominated for the YWCA’s Women of Excellence Award in Science and Medicine.
She was a frequent visitor to Durango.
Mrs. Cole enjoyed knitting, creating counted cross-stitch Christmas ornaments, reading, planting flowers, playing bridge, watching the Chicago Bears, playing golf and taking long walks. A talented cook, she was a gracious hostess, her family said, and took delight in entertaining guests.
“Betty believed in living life to its fullest,” her family said.
“She learned how to downhill ski in her 50s. She went parasailing in her 70s. To celebrate her 80th birthday, she traveled to Italy with her children. While in Florence, she insisted on climbing to the top of the Cathedral dome.”
Mrs. Cole is survived by her daughter, Nanc Cole of Durango; sons Bart Cole of Decatur and Terry Cole of Kirkland, Wash.; stepchildren Bruce Grohne of Decatur and Marta Grothe of Savoy, Ill.; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and extended family members.
A memorial service was held in Decatur.