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80-year-old author finishes first book

| July 2, 2004 12:00 AM

By Roger Morris, Western News Publisher

Hal Cole took 15 years to finish his first book but he doesn¹t plan to take that long for his second and third attempts.

³There were long periods of time where life got in the way,² said the 80-year-old Cole.

Currently, he¹s writing his second book and he has an outline in mind for number three. The evolution of the personal computer has made it much easier than when he started 15 years ago in Billings.

³Genwo: the Power of Life,² is a work of fiction that borrows on some deep philosophical issues that Cole was exposed to during a lengthy Air Force career with considerable time spent in Asia.

The book is the story of a Vietnam era medic who accidently chooses as his personal symbol the insignia of an ancient Buddhist monastic order that embraced the concept that it is better to achieve universal morality by rewarding good instead of devoting energy and wealth to the punishment of evil.

Rently Nelson, the son of a Korean veteran and Chinese mother, has a signet ring made that displays the symbol creating situations that greatly affect his life and the lives of those that come into contact with him. He becomes driven to investigate the source of the energy that is generated by the concepts and influences of the spirit of Genwo.

Cole, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he began writing the book after he lost a job while living in Billings.

³The ideas just started flowing through my head and I started putting them down,² he said.

The philosophical aspects to the book were born after he read ³Siddhartha² by Hermann Hesse. Cole said he read it in the original German. Hesse wrote his novel after a 1911 visit to India led to studies of Eastern religions and the novel. The culture of ancient Hindu and the ancient Chinese had a great influence on Hesse¹s works.

³That got me interested in Buddhism,² Cole said, ³especially the philosophy behind it.²

And most of the places he writes about, he has been there.

Cole was born in 1923 at Thermopolis, Wyo., to pioneering residents Happy and Ida Cole. He enlisted in the Air Force in April 1943 and after 28 missions as a B-24 crew member with the 15th Air Force in Italy, he was discharged in October 1945. In 1949, he re-enlisted and flew during the Korean War as a radio operator on an air evacuation for wounded American soldiers between Tokyo and Travis Air Force Base in California.

³That¹s where I really learned about war,² he said.

After a 20-year career in the military, Cole retired and attended Sonoma State College in California where he received a degree in geography.

³I wanted to teach but discovered I don¹t like kids,² he said. ³I think I probably should have majored in journalism. I even though of nursing for a while.²

After graduating from college, Cole moved to Great Falls and then Billings. After various employments he retired in 1987 as a real estate appraiser with the state of Montana.

He and wife Anita moved to Libby in 1992 where he has served as Veterans Service Officer with Post 1548 and is now past commander. He has served Lincoln County as Veterans Burial Officer and coordinator for the distribution of USDA commodities to the elderly in the CSFP program.

His wife Anita has been busy with volunteer work at the Libby Care Center and more recently as an Auxiliary member of the VFW.

The first book has been done for sometime now but getting it published proved more difficult. It was published on demand by Trafford Publishing Company of Victoria, British Columbia

Thus far, Cole has sold just over 30 books through word-of-mouth. The book is available at Cabinet Books & Music, at Good News Christian Books and from Cole.

³People find out, look it over and buy a copy,² he said. ³Others buy one book and while reading it order several more for family and friends.²

He has his first book signing scheduled Friday, July 9, from 3-7 p.m. at the Libby VFW Clinic in the waiting room. Refreshments will be served.

In support of VFW Post Harper Erdman 1548 in Libby, 25 percent of the royalties paid by Trafford will be donated to help the Post continue its charity and community work.

In the meantime, Cole said book two is in the computer.