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Cole, 87, died December 26, 2022, in Lolo, Montana. Cole was best known for caring for patients as a dentist in Missoula from 1966 until 2012. Always willing to help a friend in pain or need, he often treated patients after regular business hours or on weekends. In 1950, Cole moved to Missoula from Wisconsin with his mother, Mabelle, and sister, Cloette. He graduated from Missoula County High School in 1953 and then attended the University of Montana (then Montana State University), graduating in 1957 with a degree in chemistry and wildlife. While attending the University of Montana, Cole served in the ROTC as distinguished graduate, swam on the UM swim team, and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Cole was especially proud of his military service in the Air Force, where he served as an officer from 1957 to 1962. Cole was stationed at bases across the United States as a Commander of explosive ordinance, including nuclear weapons. After working for the USFS as a teenager (1952-1956), he joined the Smokejumpers (1957) where he was based in West Yellowstone and Missoula. He spent his summers training and fighting fires prior to and after his time in the Air Force. After serving his country in the Air Force, Cole attended Dental School at the University of Oregon in Portland. Cole and family lived in Portland from 1962-1966, returning to Missoula each summer for his smokejumper work. After graduation from Dental School in 1966, the MacPherson family settled in Missoula. Outside of his career as a professional, Cole pursued the work and art of the Outdoorsman. He lived the devoted and enthusiastic life as a Montanan: hunter, woodsman, fisherman, trapper, horseman, and mountain man. It has been said many times that Cole should have been born in the previous century when Montana was even wilder than his era of the mid and late 1900s. Cole jumped at Missoula 1955, 62, 64-65, and at West Yellowstone 1956-57, and 1963. He was a Life Member of the NSA.



Publication Date

January 2023


Smokejumping; Smokejumpers -- United States; National Smokejumper Association; Wildfire fighters; Obituaries


Forest Management

Smokejumper Obituary: MacPherson, Cole L. (Missoula 1955)