Retired Lt. Col. Larry Cole, a former Killeen City Councilman and long-time real estate appraiser with a business in downtown Killeen, died Friday after an early-morning crash.
He was 81 years old.
According to Killeen police, Cole was involved in a traffic collision at 4:56 a.m. Friday in the 4300 block of Stan Schlueter Loop. He was taken by ambulance to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple where he was pronounced dead at 12:22 p.m.
Cole served on the council from 2006 to 2011 before he was swept out of office by recall alongside four other council members — Scott Cosper, Kenny Wells, Juan Rivera and Billy Workman.
Former Mayor Dan Corbin served on the council with Cole and said he knew him well. He remembered a man who wasn’t afraid to go against the grain.
“He really tried to do what he felt was best for the city of Killeen, and I respect him,” Corbin said. “He sure liked to get up early in the morning, go to Hallmark (Restaurant), drink coffee and shoot the bull.”
Cole was one of two dissenting votes on the council in October 2006 to construct a $27 million police department headquarters at a new facility on Featherline Drive, a move to address expected future growth at the expense of the department’s long-time headquarters in downtown.
“It is too far south and east,” Cole said at the time. “We can respond to calls quicker in Harker Heights than we can in Killeen. It’s going to cost money to run the infrastructure, streets, sewer, water. It’s going to cost additional money to improve those items for the police department.”
Five other council members — Otis Evans, Billy Workman, Bob Hausmann, Ernest Wilkerson and Richard “Dick” Young — voted to approve the move.
Cole was also unafraid to push back against the city after he left the council.
In May 2014, Cole sent a letter to Killeen administrators and council members calling for a suspension of “no-knock” search warrants by Killeen police after the death of Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie, who was killed during an early-morning SWAT raid May 9, 2014, on a fourplex on Circle M in Killeen.
Cole said he reached out the city concerning those warrant searches prior to Dinwiddie’s death and never received a response.
“My position is that there is too much risk, not just to the officers, but to the neighborhood,” he wrote. “I don’t think the risk warrants the reward.”
The Killeen Police Department still practices “no-knock” raids.
Tim Hancock, a former mayor of Killeen who served during Cole’s tenure, said Cole was known as a “good counselor” to his peers and was a wellspring of information.
“He knew about building, property, zoning and public works — he was very much a help to the rest of a city and those on the council,” Hancock said. “He provided what we needed to make decisions. It’s going to be a loss to those who ever went to him for information on how things could be accomplished in the best way.”
Young, now a board member on the Bell County Water Control District No. 1 board of directors, remembered Cole as a well-informed public servant who took pride in his service to the city.
“He was a great guy, and he really did his homework and was very thorough,” Young said. “He wanted to do the very best for the city and took pride in his city.”
Prior to his time on council, Cole was a long-time representative on the Killeen Planning and Zoning Commission, where he served for 16 years.
Cosper, now a state representative for House District 54, served with Cole on the commission from 1995 to 2000 and on the council. Cole was known as an asset for the city who possessed a strong desire to see the community grow in a positive direction, Cosper said.
“He had a zeal for the future of our community when it came to planning and a visionary,” Cosper said. “He was a very good man who loved his family, served his country, community and was a very well respected business man.”
Johnny Frederick, a former commission chairman who served with Cole in the early 2000s on the commission and multiple city committees, remembered him as a “gruff” man who took pride in his service.
“He was always well informed about everything, and he had a really good grasp of the community,” Frederick said. “It was a great loss to the community — he was a friend.”
JoAnn Purser, a Killeen Independent School District board member and city animal advisory committee member, remembered Cole as an animal lover and committed servant.
“He genuinely had the best interest of all concerned to include business owners, residents, the taxpayers and even the furry four-legged members of our community,” Purser said in an email. “He tried to champion best practices in life for all.”
According to Herald archives, Cole, originally from Odessa, served 24 years in the Army and 12 in the National Guard. He was an armor officer with service in Germany, Korea and Vietnam and was awarded three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars for valor and two Cross Gallantry awards, one with Palm and another with Gold Star.
Cole graduated with a business degree and a master’s in municipal management from the University of Central Texas, now Texas A&M University - Central Texas.
He is survived by his wife, Nelwyn, and three children.