Former soldier was a 'gracious, gentle and kind' Edinburgh priest

THE Reverend Donald Cole, priest of Christ Church, Morningside and rector of St Cuthbert's, Colinton, died on Sunday aged 83.

Born on June 12, 1924 in Ayr, Donald Cole spent much of his life looking after the spiritual needs of his congregations in Edinburgh.

The son of a police inspector and a piano teacher, he realised at an early age he had a calling for helping people, and after serving with the Seaforth Highlanders in Burma during the Second World War, he dedicated himself to the Church.

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At the age of 24 he entered the Theological College in Edinburgh to begin his studies to become a priest with the Scottish Episcopal Church.

A passionate preacher, he was made an honorary canon at St Mary's Cathedral in 1991.

After being ordained he was made priest at Christ Church, Morningside and was briefly responsible for ministering to the people of Lasswade. In 1968 he became the rector of St Cuthbert's, Colinton, until his retirement at the age of 70, and was also an army chaplain during the 1970s.

The Rev Cole met his wife Shena in Edinburgh while he was serving with the Seaforth Highlanders at Redford Barracks.

Shena, who died in 2001, was a captain with the Auxiliary Territorial Service at Dreghorn Barracks.

Colleagues and family remembered the Rev Cole as being "gracious, gentle, kind and dedicated".

His daughter, Penelope Cole, 56, a public relations officer for a charity in London, said: "Father always felt that he had been called to the Church.

"Although it was at the centre of his life, he was very supportive of my mother, who had her own career as one of the founders of the Abbeyfield Society, providing homes and support for the elderly.

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"He had a way that could calm people when they were ill and provide comfort to those who needed it, without really having to think of what he was doing. He always maintained that he tried to just be a good counsellor for his parishioners whenever they needed him."

The Rev Cole's sermons were always popular with young and old alike, and he maintained this was because he kept his preaching to a minimum and only once on a Sunday.

Penelope said: "I remember when I was growing up, he would start to think about his sermon for the Sunday and begin working on it from the Thursday.

He'd have written it down by Saturday, then on Sunday morning he'd come down about six o'clock and rip it all up and do another one. He always said that a sermon had to be brief and to the point."

The Rev Cole, who had been ill for some time after suffering two strokes, died peacefully at Jubilee House Care Home in Polwarth Terrace.

He is survived by his children, Donald, 59, deputy headteacher at Leith Academy, Penelope, and Timothy, 44, an army chaplain at Sandhurst.

A funeral service is being held at St Michael and All Saints Episcopal Church on Saturday at 10.15am, followed by a private committal.