By Laura Moretti, The Animals Voice
For those of you who knew Cole McFarland Jr., we are sad to bring you the news that he unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack on Monday, Dec. 28, 2009. He had been working his dogs at a dog park not far from where he was living in Thousand Oaks. Some at the park said that he walked over to a picnic table, sat down, and never got up again.
We at The Animals Voice remember him most from the tireless years he worked on its behalf. As the magazine's executive editor and in-house photographer, Cole was responsible for acquiring most of its content in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He also graced its pages with his unprecedented photography and investigative reports. From interviews with such celebrities as Casey Kasem, Brigitte Bardot, River Phoenix, and Season Hubley, to his undercover work on behalf of animals in slaughterhouses, religious cults, and game preserves, Cole never shied away from exposing the truth about the plight of animals in human hands.
To read an example of Cole's writing, see his profile of Paul Watson.
During his tenure as managing director of Labette Humane Society in Parsons, Kansas, Cole wrote, "Well-intentioned people argue that it is our humane responsibility to kill ferals kindly, rather than let them face the rigors and perils of an uncertain future. When I observe a recently caught feral cat, cringing in terror in the corner of its cage, I see a being not altogether unlike myself. If I were that feral facing immediate, albeit painless death, or a chance at life replete with all the perilous uncertainties it holds, I would choose life. And so for these ferals, I can choose no less."
He was demanding of himself and spared very little in pursuing his notions of perfection. He studied religion, the law, and Sanskrit, and he thought about how it pieced together over a lifetime.
Most who knew Cole also know the story of him saving his golden retriever, Noble. Noble had frozen on the railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train. Cole saved Noble, but lost his own leg in the process. Cole would call it a small price to pay for saving his best friend, an animal who went on to live a long and healthy life by his side. Read more about the accident, Man Who Lost His Leg Saving Dog Is Not Sorry.
Cole spent his youth growing up in the Hawaiian Islands. He attended Punahoa School in Honolulu, graduating in 1968. He was an athlete and lettered in both track and volleyball. He played for the Outrigger Canoe Club and traveled with them to compete at a national level. He attended Brigham Young University and the University of Hawaii, as well as graduate schools in the University of California system.
His personality was fun-loving, intense, respectful when there was a reason to be respectful, searching, quiet, loving, in need of love, intelligent, and above all, complex. He was ever hopeful that answers were around the corner. Cole was kind and unfailingly compassionate. Ever a friend to many. He had an uncanny ability for insight into one's heart. His blue eyes and good looks never faded.
A memorial service will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints located at 35 South Wendy Drive, Newbury Park. His remains will be interred in Florida with his grandfather.
Cole McFarland will be forever missed — but never forgotten.