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LuJean Cole

Posted September 23, 2013 in Des Moines West, Obituaries

October 8, 1928 – September 20, 2013

LuJean Cole

LuJean Cole

Born October 8, 1928 on what we are sure was a sunny day, on a farm outside of Carlisle Iowa to the parents of Merritt Benjamin Flesher and Alice Adelia (Barns) Flesher. Her family, including her older brother Richard moved to Osceola Iowa and created a successful hog distribution business called MB Flesher and Son.

In Osceola our mother, LuJean learned the lessons that she would use for the rest of her life. Her father taught her to dream and her practical mother taught her discipline and to keep her feet on the ground. Although, dreaming came more naturally to her. All of her life she dreamed of better things for everyone she met. She generously shared her talents in friendship and in business relationships. She taught her children to be good people and to help anyone we could. She taught us no kindness is too small. Our Mother held integrity and honesty in high regard and expected nothing less from herself or her children. These life lessons shared in her own daily living.

In 1947 she married Jack Victor Cole and a year later King Richard Cole was born in 1948. Daughter Claudia Beth Cole was born in 1955. Of all of her lofty accomplishments, she chose her children as the crowning glory. But, we are the lucky ones, born to two parents who loved us and we are grateful to both. Both parents agreed on what class meant, being accepting no matter what station in life, religion, sex, race and we are lucky for these lessons. Jack and LuJean settled in Indianola Iowa and resided there until 1982 when they moved to Des Moines Iowa in 1983, the year we lost our Father and our Mother lost her husband.

In Indianola LuJean started in the business world, first starting a modeling business, then to KBAB where she had a radio show each day, then to write for the Indianola Record Herald & Tribune as the society writer, then to Simpson in 1967 to become the Director of the Brenton Student Center recommended by her good friend, Dr. Joseph Walt. As Director she used her amazing talents of councilor, mentor and guide to the students. She encouraged them to dream big, use their imagination to create things bigger than themselves and she aided this vision by providing interesting programming at the Brenton Student Center. Through a talent agency in Chicago, she invited writers and visionaries to Simpson College. Vance Packard was one and used her quote to head chapter 13 titled Man-sized Challenges for Males in the Future in his book The Sexual Wilderness – the contemporary upheaval in male/female relationships. In 1968 she created a “Drug Symposium” at Simpson so students could be educated and informed about the challenges of their time. She invited Margaret Mead to Simpson a prominent Sociologist of her time. She invited John Denver when he was just beginning his career. She invited a young black writer by the name of Alex Haley who spoke about many interviews that he had done through the publication Playboy. While speaking to a small audience at Simpson at the Student Center about a project he was thinking about; tracing his families’ genealogy. In the audience was a Dean at Simpson by the name of Wally Wiser, who came to Alex after the talk said Alex, I think my family owned your family which turned out to be true and “Roots” had a beginning. Our Mother was called Mom by many, students, friends and John Denver and Alex Haley included. After the Student Center LuJean became the Alumnae Director at Simpson learning the craft of alumnae giving. But, working with those students during a turbulent time in our nation’s history would remain as her favorite time and her favorite job.

In 1981, Pioneer Hi Bred came calling creating a job for her because of her many skills. She became the Manager of Community Investment. Through this experience she met with Not for Profits helping them make the most of their programs while offering financial support through Pioneer Hi Bred even creating a workshop that invited experts to advise and educate so they might redefine missions and streamline their organizations. She also created Searchfor Solutions that sought to educate rural communities to reinvent themselves, learn how work together and search for answers to their own futures. Again gathering speakers to inform and educate and to reinvigorate Iowa small communities. For Search for Solutions, through Pioneer Hi Bred’s support LuJean was awarded a Presidential Award delivered by Barbara Bush. She also addressed the Asian United Nations on what Pioneer Hi Bred and she had done on educating rural communities in Iowa.

But, the smaller awards she cherished more. She connected a very successful business, Bill Knapp with a small Not for Profit by the name of Tiny Tots in Des Moines run by the wonderful woman Evelyn Davis. Bill and Evelyn started a friendship and Tiny Tots helped many little folks. After Pioneer, she consulted with Creative Visions with strategic planning encouraging Ako with his vision for a better life inside our inner city. Then she consulted with Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, creating a giving program that brought the heart of this organization to its donors, emphasizing the importance of family. She always saw though static of any discussion and brought the essentials of our human condition, what makes us one with clarity. She did this with great intelligence and class.

She leaves many good friends, Mary McB, Mary S, Nancy, Mary B, Connie, Anita, Goodie, Joyce, Sunnie, DJ and Barb. Many good friends, Joe, Rose, Dee and Jane old friends have left before. Her “sister” Betty awaits her arrival. She is survived by her nephew Rick Flesher (Pam), their children Ricky and Kristi. Also her nephew Scott Twombley (Jane), nieces Deborah Twombley Karns (Doug) and niece Anne Twombley. And Steve Delong, Martha Thompson (deceased), Becky (Delong) Jurgens (Lynn), Mary (Delong) Davis (Jack), Marcie (Delong) Christinson, Jeon (Delong) Trabing (Randy).

She also leaves her unofficial nieces and nephews. Mark, Matt and Barb and Pam, Mark, Kurt, Eric and Richard. All loved and cherished. Many called her Mom and many called her Aunt Lu.

She departs this Earth leaving her children, King Richard Cole and his wife Ann Marcussen Cole and her daughter Claudia Cole Meek and husband Charles Franklin Meek.

We love you Mother, you were amazing and interesting, generous and wonderful. Thank you for your gifts that you shared and the lessons that you taught us. We will always will value your wisdom and know we are the lucky children. And to your philosophy, we will always seek to accomplish “When I die, I want to be used up” we will try to live up to that dream. She loved to work, she loved fashion, she loved beauty and she loved politics. She loved her friends and thankfully her children.

Claudia and Dick, your forever children.


Information provided by:
Iles Funeral Homes
Dunn’s Chapel
2121 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312

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