Vail Valley’s Trent Cole: A man of his word |

Vail Valley’s Trent Cole: A man of his word

Lauren Glendenning
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Friends, family and the public are invited to a celebration for Trent Cole, 1941-2009, tonight at the Vista at Arrowhead.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Trent Cole compared the Vail Valley to his memories of camp as a kid.

He loved the home he made here in 1992 with his wife, Kathy Cole, so much that when he got sick and needed the home health care the valley lacked, the couple wouldn’t move.

Cole was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, about five years ago. He died Saturday at the age of 67.

His friends watched the active man they knew deteriorate physically, but he never gave up mentally, said his longtime friend Doug Patton, a part-time Avon resident.

“The first time I saw him bed-ridden, I was fighting back tears,” Patton said. “I just felt so bad, but as we saw him more and more, I realized he still had a sense of humor. He was so buoyant. I felt a lot better when I was seeing him ” he was positive when there was no reason to be positive.”

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In September of 2007, Cole had already outlived his doctor’s expectations. He said he never thought about giving up, and it’s that attitude that probably kept him alive for so long, said his close friend Jay Swartzwelter, of Boulder.

Kathy Cole was another reason Trent Cole was able to outlive his diagnosis ” she never left his side, Swartzwelter said.

“She nursed him,” Swartzwelter said. “I was up there around Christmas two years ago ” I didn’t think he’d live another week after that trip, but Kathy was there (taking care of him) 24/7.”

But Kathy Cole couldn’t do it alone. She hired nurses to help take care of her husband. Pat Hammon, one of his nurses for about four years, said caring for him was an “amazing journey.”

Hammon was moved by the dedication of Trent Cole’s family, specifically Kathy Cole. She also learned a lot about herself and about understanding differences people have.

Hammon is a left-wing Democrat, while Trent Cole was a right-wing Republican. Trent Cole was patriotic, just as Hammon is, but the two rarely saw eye-to-eye on politics.

“It was growth for me, knowing I could meet or come to a common ground with somebody I had great differences with,” she said.

There was a warmth about Trent Cole that his friends admired, Swartzwelter said. He was always a man of his word, and a very trustworthy and dependable friend, Swartzwelter said.

And he always had a special place in his heart for children, which is why it was no surprise to those who knew Trent Cole that he became involved with Roundup River Ranch, a local nonprofit that is building a summer camp for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“Trent was a real community kind of person,” Hammon said.

Trent Cole regularly gave to various charities and causes, but he never did it for the recognition, Swartzwelter said. Some of his benevolence was publicized, but his best moments were when he gave anonymously, Swartzwelter said.

“He was just an all-American boy,” Swartzwelter said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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