December 19, 2019 – Maryland Farm Bureau presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Donald Cole of Baltimore County during the 2019 Maryland Farm Bureau Annual Convention.
The Distinguished Service to Farm Bureau Award recognizes the unsung heroes who have dedicated their lives to making Farm Bureau a better and stronger organization. Recipients are long-time members who have volunteered countless hours organizing Farm Bureau events and other behind-the-scenes tasks.
Donald Cole has devoted decades of service to the Maryland farming community. He grew up and still farms currently in Baltimore County. Passing on his love for farming and agriculture was important to Donald, and as such, he has gifted other farms he owns to his three children. He has been a Baltimore County Farm Bureau member for over 60 years, and at 88 still attends every Baltimore County Annual Meeting and Banquet.
Donald is a valued member of the Baltimore County farming community, and often offers advice to young farmers and peers. He stays current on farm issues and when not on the tractor, is reading countless farm papers and magazines. This made Donald a huge asset as a member of the legislative review committee and in policy discussions for the county. He is also famous for always knowing the latest weather forecast, so much that family calls him to get an update on the weather before turning on the news.
At the peak of his farming career, Donald farmed over 1,100 acres and is proud to have continued a legacy of farming for both his family and his late wife Betty’s family. Together they farmed his grandparent’s farm and her grandparent’s farm for a total of 3-4 generations of farming that he was able to sustain and preserve. When he was still operating his Holstein herd, he put a big emphasis on high production and high type. A highlight from his years as a breeder was having a Holstein he bred be named Best Bred & Owned at the Maryland State Fair. He has raised beef cattle for the last 30 years, which he continues to this day. In 1994, Donald Cole and his family were introduced into the Governor’s Agriculture Hall of Fame.
In addition to his years of service to the farming community, he was a loving dedicated husband for 62 years. Together, he and Betty had three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Donald and Betty met as piano students of the same teacher in their early years and went on to be high school sweethearts. After high school, he attended Dickinson College until his family’s barn burnt down, and due to those unfortunate circumstances, could not return to college.
Next to his family, and farming, music is a big love of Donald’s life. He has been the organist and music director at Grace United Methodist Church for over 60 years, and rarely ever misses a Sunday. He enjoys attending and socializing at gospel events once a month.
His life was dedicated to service. Donald has a long list of organizations in which he has had a leadership role, a few notable ones are Central Farm Credit, Middle Atlantic Division of Dairymen Inc., and Southern States Cooperative. Donald continues to farm today, and he says that he finds “peace” when on the tractor. He exemplifies distinguished service, by always willing to lend a helping hand with his easy-going and kind demeanor.