his brother Harry Cole wrote:
Memories of William Henry “Bill” Cole October 31, 1932 - December 25, 2015
Bill was the third son of William and Gladys Cole. Born in Long Branch, Ontario, Bill grew up admiring his older brother Syd, a Second World War hero. From an early age, Bill had an unbridled thirst for adventure - and a seemingly wont to challenge the world on just about everything.
From his early days in Long Branch, Bill was always involved in some escapade or adventure. There were schemes among schemes that involved all of his brothers in one way or another. The building of a raft with two of his younger siblings and a couple of boyhood friends - to sail out on Lake Ontario - then having to be rescued from the somewhat dubious craft by the harbor police shortly after its launch.
Later, when the family moved to Lakeview, Bill again gathered his younger brothers and led them on a number of adventures alongside the railway tracks, climbing around and over the train bridge that spanned the Etobicoke Creek, and foraging into the ‘unexplored’ woods. There were the forts that lined the ridge of the hill behind the family home - forts that Bill had help to engineer, complete with a communications link to a distant tree fort where they spied on train movements - not for any nefarious reason but only because it was fun to do.
And then there were the “war games” with the scouting missions over and around the Toronto Golf Club - where he and his brothers were chased more than once by the Greens Keeper. There was never a doubt that Bill was going to push the limits of what he could do - and he had fun doing it. Everyone enjoyed being part of the excitement their older brother created - or perhaps they just didn’t know any better!
He was always doing something that had an element of adventure (and it was not always exactly legal) but it was Bill doing his thing. Like the clandestine excursions into areas, acts which fueled Bill’s quest to go where no one else could - or would. Then conversely, the time he came to the rescue and defended the owner of a small restaurant against the rage of some unruly customers who refused to pay their fare.
Bill was an avid hunter, whether using a bow and arrow or a rifle - although he was not known to be the best of shots. He later joined the Peel Police Force - but alas, he was not one to be confined to the rules of the establishment, and his love of adventure and the unknown, soon took him elsewhere.
In 1962, Bill followed his younger brother Bob’s lead and tried Sport Parachuting. For Bob, it was a thrill to make a few jumps; but for Bill, it was in the world of sky diving that he was to experience his most interesting accomplishments. It was not enough to jump from airplanes - and later hot air balloons, but he had to take the adventure to a different level by becoming one of the first jumpers to take pictures during freefall, then setting a high altitude record for the time (albeit against the rules and not official), and then to eventually making two ‘chuteless’ jumps (again against the rules). He produced an early documentary on sky diving entitled “Silent Sky” and then got involved in television commercials where he sometimes acted in a featured role, while other times operating behind the scenes with other parachutists making the actual jumps.
Bill enjoyed being in the spotlight and later formed “The Descenders”, a group of skydivers who did a number of exhibition jumps at air shows around the country. He also piloted hot air balloons as well.
One of Bill’s greatest achievements was to singlehandedly build a full-sized Fokker Dr.1 Triplane from scratch. Unfortunately, a pilot friend he allowed to fly the temperamental aircraft, crashed on takeoff.
Bill was his own man, to be sure. He was always looking for the next great adventure that would take him to a new high and give him a sense of achievement. Some did, some didn’t.
There were many who did not always agree with his position on some issues - or the adventures he chose, but for some, it was a pleasure to be part of the schemes, plots and ploys he created during his lifetime.
Bill will be remembered by some as one of the more radical pioneers of adventure.
Some will remember him for reasons of their own.
I will remember him as my brother.
Blue skies forever, Bill.