As I read the eloquent words from so many writers and friends in the wine industry whose lives were touched by Cole, I’m deeply touched. And I’m reminded of all the times Cole was always so eloquent with words when I was left speechless. When Cole wrote to me in this May to tell me the news of his unexpected diagnosis of an advanced case of pancreatic cancer I was stunned, but in typical Cole fashion he was the one to console me…
“Last week I received a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer. Obviously, this has come as quite a shock to me. My prognosis is unclear, but I begin chemotherapy treatments tomorrow. This will interfere with my ability to get out and about in the wine world for some time, as my immune system will be compromised and I will be dealing with the side effects of the chemo….My attitude is positive and strong and I have every intention of beating this cancer back as much as possible . . . but I apologize that I may not be very good at keeping up contacts and friendships for awhile.”
In a follow up email a few weeks ago “I had a horrible time getting my chemo started, with a number of complications and reversals …. However, most all of those issues have been resolved and now that I am on a more full chemo regimen, the results are very positive. It will never cure my cancer, but will give me a better quality of remaining life . . . . and YEAH for that!!”
Now as I am stunned to hear the news of how quickly the cancer progressed during the past few weeks, I again search for words to express and find myself overwhelmed by emotion. Cole was one of the most thoughtful, thorough, and kind souls I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the wine industry – a tremendously talented journalist and close friend I was honored to know & will miss tremendously. Cole and the love of his life, his wife Andrea Danehower, were always incredibly supportive, gracious, and kind in sharing many lovely bottles of wine and lovingly prepared local feasts on their back deck for long, memorable summer dinners. They helped guide me on the storyline for the Noble Spirit, and dealing with the death of many close to me, and were always quick to support others but reluctant to accept help themselves – a rare combination of talent and humility.
I just haven’t been able to express the impact he had on my life adequately, so turned to photos to trigger the memories. I had to smile today as I prepared this selection of photographs and stumbled upon this unexpected gift. Cole was always the one to write the captions to my photos for projects we collaborated on together – for The Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest book, Northwest Palate Magazine, or in the dozens of stories we did for wine publications. Although we worked together on many projects for the past 8 years, we only had a chance to travel together once – to the wine country of Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada last September. When I couldn’t remember some of the details for the captions on the below selection of photos, I wondered what Cole would say – then in scrolling back through his twitter feed see that he’s already written the captions for me and is still somehow helping us all remember what is so great about our industry archived in the wonderful writing he has left behind in his books, articles, and in his Essential Northwest wines website http://essentialnorthwestwines.com.
Cole – I know you’d have an eloquent way of writing the caption for that last photo, it is fitting that it’s the last photograph I took of you reminding us to continue to raise a glass of beautiful wine in his honor and treasure the shared moments with family and friends.