Former Orphan's Court Judge Ed Cole has died

Pictured here with Vincent Pantalone and Carolyn Crouch in December 2010, W. Edwin Cole, center, takes the oath of office to become an Orphan’s Court Judge.

ELKTON — Former Cecil County Commissioner W. Edwin Cole died Wednesday in his Florida home. He was 68.

Cole served as a county commissioner -- and was president of the county board -- from 1990 until 1994. 

From there, he was appointed to the Cecil County Charter Board in 2009, which successfully brought the concept to referendum and approval by voters. 

He was back in politics in 2010, winning a seat on the Cecil County Orphan's Court where he served as a judge for one term, until 2014. By June 2017, Cole had been appointed to the Cecil County Board of License Commissioners, where he served for about a year before resigning.

However, according to current Cecil County Liquor Board Chairman Steve Miller, Cole was invaluable to him.

"He helped me learn the Liquor Board when I got appointed," Miller said. "He was kind of my mentor."

Like Miller, Earl Bradford, director of the board, had nothing but praise for Cole.

"I thought the world of Ed," Bradford said Thursday. "I met him back when he was a county commissioner."

Bradford was a maintenance mechanic for the county at the time. 

"He supported me becoming a maintenance supervisor," Bradford said.

Cole had a lifelong love of politics and got involved before he could even cast a vote. By the time he had turned 18, he was tapped by then Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel to cast the first votes for Maryland at the 1972 Democratic National Convention for Gov. George Wallace. He was an executive assistant to Gov. Blair Lee III and then garnered an appointment from Gov. Harry Hughes to serve as deputy secretary of the Maryland Racing Commission.

Perryville Commissioner Tim Snelling was chairman of the liquor board when Cole was a member. However, the two had met years earlier when Cole was running for county commissioner.

"I was working on Grayson Abbott's campaign," Snelling said of the candidate who would go on to serve the southern end of the county. "I got to know Ed through all that."

"But Ed was running against Bill Manlove and Ed got upset with me because I was supporting Bill Manlove over him. He wasn't happy with me," Snelling said.

Snelling said once the election was over the fences were mended.

"He knew it wasn't personal," Snelling recalled.

He said he would remember Cole as a devoted public servant.

"He always had a desire to serve and to serve the public," Snelling said. "He did a good job at it."

Cole's life will be celebrated in a mass on Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. at Saint John the Beloved Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del. His long time friend, The Very Rev. Joseph J. Piekarski will officiate.

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