WASHBURN, Maine — Washburn is gearing up for this weekend’s annual Washburn August Festival, which will feature a variety of events and activities for all ages, including the annual August Festival Parade, which takes place Saturday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. on Main Street.
In keeping with tradition, the August Festival Committee has chosen the annual festival king and queen to help lead events during the weekend. This year’s king and queen are Gary and Louise Cole.
The Coles came to Washburn in August of 1966 after graduating from Ricker College in Houlton and getting married. Louise had accepted a teaching position at Washburn District High School and spent her entire career there, retiring 41 years later.
Gary had family ties to Washburn, as his father once lived and went to school there. His grandfather, Charles Cole, owned a harness and shoe repair business in Washburn in the 1920s, and later moved the business to Patten and then to Houlton, where the shoe store is to this day.
Gary Cole also had two uncles and an aunt living in Washburn when he moved there: Gerald “Bud” Cole, Lewis Cole and Annie Bragg. He became a social worker for the state of Maine division of child welfare, and later accepted a teaching position at Woodland Consolidated School in 1969. After 14 years in Woodland, he moved to Skyway Middle School in Presque Isle until retiring in 2005.
The Coles have lived in Washburn for 51 years, raising four boys — Robert, Matthew, Jonathan and Andrew. Both of them have been involved extensively in the community. They were both leaders in the Scouting program, working with Cub Scout Pack 162 and Boy Scout Troop 177. All four of their sons are Eagle Scouts — the highest rank attainable in Scouting.
Gary has served on the Washburn Memorial Library board for over 40 years, and both he and Louise have been involved in the Salmon Brook Historical Society, with Gary serving as president for three years and Louise as secretary for four. Louise was also one of the co-authors of the 2011 book, “Washburn: 150 Years of Memories.”
In their retirement, the Coles have pursued new interests. Gary has become a professional watercolor artist, having had exhibits at Northern Maine Community College, the Turner Memorial Library in Presque and and the Washburn Library. He has taught a Seniors Achieving Greater Education class in watercolor painting at the University of Maine at Presque Isle for the past two years. His second love is gardening, and beautiful flowers adorn his property.
Louise reads, knits, works on family genealogy and still substitute teaches at Washburn District High School. Since their retirement, the couple spend their winters in Florida.