Pat Cole

Posted 1/7/20

Few people get to live their dreams, but Pat Cole did. For over fifty years, she rode, bred, raised, showed, and raced horses. With the love of her life, Jack Cole, she traveled around the world, and after Jack’s death in 1996, Pat bought a sailing yacht and basked in the tropics for a time. She spent her final years in the Andes mountains in the beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador.

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Pat Cole

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Few people get to live their dreams, but Pat Cole did. For over fifty years, she rode, bred, raised, showed, and raced horses. With the love of her life, Jack Cole, she traveled around the world, and after Jack’s death in 1996, Pat bought a sailing yacht and basked in the tropics for a time. She spent her final years in the Andes mountains in the beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador.

Pat, a sixth generation Texan, was passionate about horses from her earliest memories. Her grandfather presented her with her first horse, Brownie, when she was just six years old. The surprise took place in the backyard of the Woodbine, where Judge Ebb Berry, Sr. and his wife, Jesse, lived for a time. From that moment, when little Patsy mistakenly kissed Brownie and patted her Grandy, she was “horse crazy.”

Pat spent a few semesters at St. Thomas University while working as dental assistant for her life-long friend, Dub Worrell. The other women in the office weren’t terribly happy about the fact that Pat spent more time looking after and showing the good doctor’s cutting horses than she did in the dental office. It was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise, since she was also known to startle and drop whole trays of dental instruments with a loud clatter that caused the dentist and patient to startle as well.

At 20, Pat married and moved to a 10,000-acre ranch in Junction, Texas, where she and her first husband, Buster Parish, ran 400 head of cattle, 10,000 head of Angora goats, 300 head of sheep, and 30 head of horses. Her only child, Kim, was born during this time, and Pat juggled her duties as wife, mother, and ranch hand there until she and Buster returned to Houston to open the Salt Grass Saddlery in 1961. For the next 10 years or so, that business grew to be one of the ten largest western stores in the nation.

During this period, Pat was an active 4-H Horse Club Leader and a Life Member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Throughout the 60s, she trained and showed Quarter Horses in pursuit of National Championships. Pulling a red and white four-horse rig, Pat competed in more than 750 events all around the US. Four different horses obtained Quarter Horse Champion status through her efforts. Only three other women outranked her in the AQHA “championships won” category at the time.

Pat and Buster divorced in 1969, and she explored the windy prairie outside Cheyenne, Wyoming, but the cold didn’t suit her, and she returned to Houston, where it wasn’t long before she met and married Jack Cole, in 1972. During the 70s, Pat worked for several Houston oil and gas companies even serving as vice president of a gold and silver mining company for a time.

Probably the happiest period of her life began in 1981, when Pat and Jack moved to Madisonville and founded Metal Concepts, a sheet metal fabrication business. Their horse program shifted to breeding, raising, and racing their horses. Over the next decade or so, they raised 98 foals and sent almost half of them to the track. They stood in the winner’s circle many times. Their first racing-bred colt won his first race, and a year later, that colt’s brother, Oh Hy Oh, was one of the top two-year-olds in Texas. A few years later, Virgil Vengeful won the First Consolation of the All American Futurity in Ruidoso.

Jack’s passing in 1996 was a blow Pat never quite recovered from. She sold the house that Jack built out on Highway 21 and Metal Concepts and gave her horses away, then she set off on a series of adventures that started aboard her sailing catamaran, Pat’s Cat. She finished up in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she spent the last six years of her life as a member of the thriving expatriate community there. Pat returned to be near her daughter in Denton, Texas, in July 2019.

Pat is survived by her daughter, Kimberly Parish Davis, son-in-law, Bill Davis, granddaughters, Jacqueline and Heather (Liz) Davis, sister and brother-in-law Judy and Henry Jackson, as well as her nieces and nephews: Rhett Jackson, Jeff Jackson, Jenny Jackson, Leah Schaatt, Sean Berry, Mark Berry, and their families. Pat was preceded in death by her brother, Ebb Berry, III.

Rather than flowers, please send donations to either Rufus Refuge or the Madisonville Cemetery Association.

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