March 24, 1933 ~ June 13, 2022

Born in: Greenville, SC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Asheville – Thomas “T.J.” Cole, 89, of Asheville, died Monday, June 13, 2022 at Mission Hospital.

T.J. was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. After graduating from high school, he attended Furman University where he received his BA in Voice. He then received his Masters in Music Theory from The Eastman School of Music and then continued his studies in Vocal Pedagogy at Indiana University.

He taught at Mars Hill University, Winthrop University and Western Carolina University before moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. to teach at Broward College where he retired after 35 years. Also during this time, he was a choral director and performer at various churches and community choirs.

He is survived by his loving wife, Marlene Evans Cole; two daughters, Kirsten Fuchs (Michael) of Fletcher and Ingrid Cole of Arden; one son, Thomas J. Cole, Jr. (Heidi) of Mills River as well as seven grandchildren, Brandt, Kaitlyn, Haley, JoAnna, Brielle, Zoey and Josh.

A service celebrating T.J.’s life will be held at 11:00 AM on Thursday, June 16, 2022 at First Baptist Church of Asheville.

In lieu of flowers, the family graciously asks that you consider making a contribution to

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family.


Celebration of Life: June 16, 2022 11:00 am

First Baptist Church of Asheville
5 Oak Street
Asheville, NC 28801


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  1. T.J. was a wonderful person, and we are so grateful for the great memories of him during family visits and reunions. His love of music and his vocal talent is something we will never forget. With tender hearts, we send much love to our sweet cousins and the entire Cole family.

  2. I am so sorry to hear of T. J.’s passing. He was such a wonderful person and had a very positive impact on my life. So many happy memories of our times together at BCC and at First Presbyterian. He will be a great addition to the heavenly choir. No doubt God needed a good tenor there!

  3. Dear sweet man,
    We never met. However, I knew of you through Jennifer Cole. She loved you dearly, and I have no doubt she greeted you, ready with a duet or six in hand. Sing well on high, sir!! The music will continue here in your honor.

  4. Our Deepest Condolences to the Entire Cole family. You will always cherish the Memories of him. It is a very difficult time for all but many of those memories will eventually put a smile on your face reminiscing those fabulous moments. May he Rest in Eternal Peace.

  5. We have lost a talented musician, a man with a heart full of love, and a dear friend. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was a valued addition to any group.
    I will miss his hugs and Ronnie is distraught to lose his Bench Buddy. But there is a joyous new voice in that glorious choir in Heaven. Bless you, Sweet TJ.
    Love to Marleen and his beloved family,
    Ron and Billie

  6. We celebrate the life and music legacy of our dear friend and professor, THIMAS JOSHUA COLE.
    We also continue to hold dear his wife and Mars Hill Univ. Classmate, MARLENE EVANS COLE.

  7. Such a kind, generous, caring person. TJ Cole was one of the greatest teachers. I feel fortunate to have spent time learning from him. I’ll always remember his quirky sense of humor, from PDQ Bach in chorus to inventing an instrument with rubberbands and an aluminum coke can. There will always be a candle lit in my heart for him.

  8. Mr. Cole was a very sweet gentleman. Sending your whole family my love. Sending you lots of energy, strength and peace.

  9. Thoughts and prayers, dear Kirsten, for you and your family as you grieve the passing of your beloved father.
    Shannon and Joe Ward

  10. Another beautiful voice has been added to that great choir in heaven. We so enjoyed our friendship with TJ over the years – singing and touring with the choir at First Pres. Fort Lauderdale. We send our love to our dear friends Marlene, Ingrid, Kirsten and family.

  11. I love this picture of T.J—it shows his smile and the twinkle in his eyes. Here are some of my memories of him: how gracious he was to have Jesse and me as overnight guests after they moved to N. Carolina from Florida, even though he barely knew us; the many lunches and visits when he patiently sat through long talks between Marlene and me; the time he interspersed our talks on their porch with this question, “what color would you say that flower is ?” T. J. was kind enough, when he found out I used to play the flute, to give me flute music in the hope, never realized, that I would take the flute up again. I wish I had, for his sake, and had played that music for him. Jesse joins me in sending condolences to Marlene, her children, and grandchildren.

  12. Dear Marlene & Family,
    I always loved and respected T.J. and I learned a lot from him. I always admired his musicianship, patience, kindness and wonderful sense of humor. My love and prayers are with you at this difficult time.

  13. I’m so sorry to learn of the passing of Mr. Cole and will keep all of his family and loved ones in my Prayers.

  14. TJ was always so kind to our family and never left without a joke. We would ask for a song and he would graciously entertain us every time.
    What love he had for his family and talent he gave to the world.
    Our love and prayers are with Marlene, Kirsten, Ingrid and Tom.

  15. Our family met TJ, Marlene, and their family over 50 years ago as neighbors in Plantation, Florida. TJ was always such a talented, friendly, kind, loving and wonderful family man and friend. He will be greatly missed. Our love, thoughts, and prayers are with Marlene and their beautiful family at this difficult time.


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