In Memoriam: Gary Cole, 1954-2015

By Dan Shea

9 December 2015, Scottsville, KY - Gary Lee Cole, president and founder of Cole Distributing, died after a long fight with Cancer. He was 61 years old. He is survived by his wife Lenita, his stepchildren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Gary was a Vietnam Veteran, having been a helicopter pilot in that war. He had a vast knowledge of history, including military history and firearms use and development. It was this knowledge and the continuing thirst for more knowledge that led him to be a pillar of the firearms surplus/import community.

Gary founded his firearms import/sales business in the early 1980s in his hometown of Scottsville, Kentucky.

Gary’s close friend Israeli arms dealer Zev Kaptowski, had this to say during the FAIR Trade Group meeting at SHOT Show 2016: “I knew Gary for over 20 years and considered him a most valued customer. But he was much more than that, he was a personal and dear friend. He was a gentleman in the true meaning of the word – “a gentle man” – softspoken, but nevertheless always ready to voice a forceful opinion on those subjects that mattered to him. He had an impeccable reputation in our business. He was a man who you could rely on to back up his word with action. Gary was truly a special individual – I know that he will be very much missed by all that knew him.”

Cole Distributing has been at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot since the 1980s, and when the new pole barn was built, occupied a prominent space on the right side of the back road exhibits. As a visitor walks in, Gary was always there to be one of the first of the longtime vendors to be seen.

SAR believes Gary’s influence in the Class Three and import community was so strong that many people will remember him and appreciate knowing that he has passed.

Cole Distributing will be carrying on under the reins of its new CEO, Roger Wick.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V20N6 (July 2016)
and was posted online on May 20, 2016


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