Cover photo for Jane Cole's Obituary
Jane Cole Profile Photo

Jane Cole

January 24, 1947 — May 20, 2024

Jane Cole

Jane Cole passed away peacefully with her family at her side May 20th after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Jane was born in Oak Park, Illinois Jan 24, 1947, to Sylvester J. Vavruska of Chicago and Alleen Smith Vavruska of Waynesville, NC. Jane graduated from Waynesville Township High School in 1965 and went on to graduate from Western Carolina University in 1969 with a BA in elementary education. It was at Western Carolina where Jane met and married Bill, her husband of 54 years. 

After teaching in the Head Start program and elementary education for 4 years Jane discovered her true calling in creating original quilts with an artistic twist and in teaching quilting. Jane’s artistic quilts hang in Welch’s corporate headquarters, Duke University’s School of Nursing, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, the John C. Campbell Folkschool History Center and Museum, Haywood Regional Hospital, and the Lake Logan Retreat Center. Jane’s quilts were shown in the Focus Gallery at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was there that her quilts were sold to travelers over the years and then taken to be displayed in homes all over the United States. Jane’s quilts were juried into national and international shows by the best of the best, winning many awards and ribbons for her work. 

For 19 years Jane ran a quilters’ getaway business at various inns in New England and then she and another well-known quilter, Wendy Bowen, formed a quilting group called Shady Ladies which has been meeting weekly at the Shady Grove Methodist Church for 20 plus years. It is in that group that Jane has encouraged quilters to create and to explore a free-style artistic form, one that encourages quilters to imagine and create their own designs. 

In 1995 after traveling the world and living throughout the US while Bill was in the Air Force, Jane brought her friendly and creative personality back to Waynesville - a personality that made everyone feel like they’d known her all their lives. Since then, Jane and Bill have worked side by side helping nonprofits such as Folkmoot, HART Theatre, Habitat for Humanity, Haywood Vocational Opportunities and Friends of the Library. She was president of the board for HART Theatre and Friends of the Library. Jane played the mountain dulcimer and was a member of a band, Blackberry Jam, which performed at charitable and other events. At the time of her death, she was a volunteer at the Friends of the Library’s used bookstore where she spent many happy hours with her co-volunteers. 

Above all, Jane was devoted to her family — her husband Bill, children Rebecca and Jeremy and her grandchildren Ethan, Grace, and Sarah. She was a friendly and wise source of counsel, always nonjudgmental, but mostly a sounding board where a gentle nod or words of encouragement made all the difference. 

An endowment in Jane’s name has been created in the Fund for Haywood County, part of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina that will provide grants for charitable purposes to improve life in Haywood County. Friends and family are invited to donate to the endowment by going to cfwnc.org clicking on “Give Now” and then typing in “Jane Cole Endowment Fund”. Friends may also celebrate her life with donations to her favorite charity, Planned Parenthood at plannedparenthood.org. 

In keeping with Jane’s wishes her body has been donated to High Point University’s Medical School for medical science studies. After the studies, the immediate family will scatter her ashes when they become available. There will also be a celebration of life for all of her friends at Wells Event Center June 8th, 5:00 -7:00 PM. Friends and family are invited to visit the Wells Funeral Home website and leave photos or to share favorite memories. 

Jane is survived by her daughter, Rebecca Cole Cronk, her son Jeremy James Cole, her husband, Willie E. Cole, her grandson Ethan Morgan Cronk, her granddaughter, Grace Elizabeth Cronk, her granddaughter Sarah Lian Cronk, all of Waynesville and her brother John Smith Vavruska of Santa Fe, NM. 

Jane Cole will be deeply missed by hundreds. Thankfully her legacy has deep and strong roots in Haywood County and beyond. Her example will live on.

The care of Mrs. Cole has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Homes of Waynesville 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jane Cole, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 8, 2024

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Wells Events & Reception Center

33 Wells Events Wy, Waynesville, NC 28786

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