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Motorcycle run to honor deceased guard

By Staff | Jun 4, 2013

Since its inception, Connie Gardner Cole participated in every annual Geisinger Motorcycle Run. Deceased only weeks before the fundraiser, friends and relatives plan to ride in her honor this year.

“She almost made it,” was the lament of family and friends who attended services for the late Connie Cole who succumbed to her long and courageous battle against cancer on May 19, 2013.

The remarks were in reference to Connie’s plans to attend two upcoming events: Riding in the annual Geisinger Motorcycle Run, which she’d done consecutively since its inception, and attend the 50th reunion of her Hughesville high school class.

The deceased had prepared for both. For the run she’d purchased her fifth Harley Davidson and with oxygen tank aboard, made her one and only practice run. Last June son Keith accompanied his mother on the hospital’s annual fundraiser in the event she’d tire, but it was only on the return home that he took the wheel.

On the eve of her viewing, fellow members of Gold Wing Road Riders Association, took advantage of a break in a thunder storm and arrived at the funeral home dressed in full regalia. Upon leaving, the cyclists gave their friend a proper sendoff by revving the engines so that family standing by the casket felt the vibrations shake the floor.

The deceased was employed by the State Correctional Institute (SCI) at Muncy. She was stationed in the facility’s gate house at a time when inmates played softball against local women’s teams. Upon occasions when friends or relatives were among visiting teams, Connie’s sense of humor surfaced when she’d tell the guards to “Check them again, they look like trouble.”

At the funeral, a former player remarked, “Can’t you just see Connie in the guard house at the Pearly Gates giving Saint Peter orders?”

Connie said a memorable point in her career occurred when she was among guards sent to a prison uprising at Camp Hill. “The simultaneous sounds of 200 officers loading gun chambers were unforgettable,” she’d said. Connie was an expert marksman who taught pistol shooting and safety to co-workers and friends.

Her death fell six days prior to her 50th reunion. Class members were asked to send a bio to which Connie complied saying she’d had a full and wonderful life.

The deceased had a sensitive side sympathizing with others and loved cooking for guests using receipts from her favorite chef and author, ‘The Barefoot Contessa.’

Born March 2, 1945 in Muncy, Connie was a daughter of Glenna Kepner Gardner and the late Ralph Gardner of Franklin Township. More information about her life can be found in her obituary.

Burial at Twin Hills Memorial Park followed services on May 24 at the McCarty-Thomas Funeral Home, Hughesville with her pastor, the Reverend Scott Baker.