Our Founding Pastor
Rev. Boyce “Gene” Cole, age 89, went home to be with the Lord Saturday, August 8, 2020 in Trinity Elms Health & Rehab of Clemmons.
Gene’s early years were difficult; while his mother spent a year and a half in a TB sanatorium and his father was driving long-distance, he and his younger siblings lived with several different families. There he learned to plow behind Kate, the farm mule, at age five and enjoyed riding her afterward. He always appreciated how good he was treated by the kind Folks who cared for him and his siblings during those difficult times.
As a young man driving his father’s produce truck he met his one and only love, Emma “Boots” Tillett. One afternoon, while approaching the truck, he saw Boots and her sister Barbara sitting on the back bumper and her uncle, Willis, a friend of Gene’s, standing nearby. About Boots, he commented to Willis, “That’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen!” When Willis asked, “Do you want to date her?” he said, “Has a cat got fur?!” Seventy years of marriage later he treasured her even more. During his last days in rehab he slept with her picture held tight to his chest.
After their marriage Gene put his high school Machine Shop training to work at Perfecting Service Company on Atando Ave. where he advanced to Precision Machinist. During the Korean War he was given security clearance by the FBI to produce vital parts for all branches of the U.S. Military and NASA.
In 1960 he answered the call to preach and began his studies. He moved the family to Chattanooga, TN in 1962 to complete his education at Tennessee Temple University & Bible College. While working as a machinist fulltime at Industrial Machine to support his family, he completed a four year course of study in only two. It is a testament to his dedication that he graduated Doctor of Divinity and was named valedictorian of classes 1963 and 1964.
Rev. Cole then returned to Charlotte as the founding pastor of Belmont Park Baptist Church, five years later renamed Devonshire Baptist Church, where he served 54 years. He also produced and hosted the radio broadcast, “The Wonderful Grace of Jesus”, which aired on WHVN and the Internet, as well as teaching the Thursday Morning Bible Class, both for more than 50 years.
He enjoyed fishing, playing softball on the church team, and most of all, helping people however they needed it: fixing cars, house plumbing or electrical- whatever was needed. Rev. Cole was not only a caring pastor, he was a good and reliable friend. He enjoyed giving ministry interns the opportunity to hone their preaching and music skills and sharing his considerable experience. Most of all he enjoyed sharing Christ with whomever he met, always in a loving, gentle, nonjudgmental way. Simply put, he loved people to Christ.
Rev. Cole retired November 15, 2018, moving to Cadence Assisted Living of Clemmons, to be near family and to receive the care he and Boots were no longer able to provide for themselves.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, Boyce M. Cole and Daisy M. Cole, sister Cecelia Penninger, and brother Louis N. Cole. Survivors include his wife Emma “Boots” Cole, son Rickey E. Cole (Gail), daughter Cathy A. Galinot (Al), and granddaughter Jessica L. Cole, all of Clemmons, NC, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Rev. Cole’s passion was the ministry of Devonshire Baptist Church.