Memories of Sally: 1957 - 2004

Friends are encouraged to email pictures and stories of Sally to and they will be added to this site.

Recollections from her sister, Sue

Saturday's child has far to go.

Sally was born in Gosport, Hampshire on Saturday, the 6th April 1957. She was the second daughter of Bill and Joyce Cole. We were living in Camberley at the time, but Joyce wanted to give birth, in the same private nursing home, as she had on the first occasion with Susan.

She was a beautiful, sunny natured baby, with a quiff of white blond hair, and a beautiful smile. Her childhood was punctuated with moves around the country. Perhaps this gave her the spirit of adventure that was to shine, throughout her life.

She always loved reading books, and doing crossword puzzles. Both sustained her throughout her illness.

Sally made close friends wherever she went. Her life is landmarked by her friends, her adventures, and her wonderfully happy and productive marriage to Charlie. Her mother, Joyce, would have been so proud to have him as a son-in-law. She loved the world of medicine, and had been in love with a doctor herself, many years ago.

The family moved to Essex, just east of London, when Sally was about 1 year old. She attended kindergarten, at the Convent, in Grays, Essex until we moved to Cirencester in Gloucestershire. She went to a private primary school there, before moving on to another Convent, in Cheltenham, when she was 11.

When Sally was 15, we moved back to Lee on Solent in Hampshire. The family had always had a house there, and Bill wanted to move back to his 'roots'.

Sally went to Portsmouth High School for girls, followed by Fareham Technical College where she took a business course for 2 years. Her great friends were Valerie Colclough, Alex Davison and Jackie Berry. Friends she kept in touch with, throughout her life.

Sally went on to become a State Registered Nurse, training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in the City of London. She loved her time working with Oncology patients, particularly the paediatric patients, at the Royal Marsden Hospital, which is the most famous Oncology Hospital in England. Her website has wonderful pictures of her, having completed her training, and also having fun with her nursing colleagues.

After a while, her spirit of adventure came to the fore.

England was too small and Sally worked hard to get a nursing job somewhere exotic. She set off for a nursing job, in ICU, at the main hospital, in Naussau, the Bahamas. She had a wonderful time. The contract ended after 2 years and she came back to the UK for a brief time.

She got itchy feet pretty quickly, and had been clever enough to take the USA exam boards in Miami, before coming back to the UK.

New York beckoned, and she got a job working at Belleview hospital in the Big Apple.

Recollections from her husband, Charlie

"Sally was recruited from England to work at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Overall, public hospitals in the UK and Europe are more civilized than city hospitals in the States, and Sally was caught off guard by the degenerate conditions of Bellevue at the time, but was committed to stay for at least two years as a show of good faith and fortitude. Her exit plan was a job in the British Virgin Islands. We met in 1986 when she was the head nurse on the hand and replantation ward of Bellevue Hospital and I was a plastic surgery resident. She was beautiful, funny, exotically British, and despite a very quick wit and a certain mischievious gleam in her eye, projected a real feeling of peace and serenity. We dated a few times, and when I realized that she really was was planning to leave for the islands, I asked her to stay and marry me instead.

We married in 1987, and she had Jon in 1988 in New York. We moved to Idaho for 6 months before spending a year in Australia, where Sally worked at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and gave birth to Mark. We then moved to Salt Lake City, where Sally gave birth to Chris, and worked at the Shriners Hospital, where she felt truly at home. In 1992, we moved to Palm Beach County. Sally worked at Children's Medical Services, and after delivering Nicholas in 1994, continued working at CMS and as a newborn baby photographer.

In 1996, sensing change but saying nothing, she travelled to England to reconcile with her long estranged father, became a naturalized American citizen, and continued working until the day she was admitted to the hospital because of effects of her brain tumor. She had surgery, but the tumor was too extensive, and she never fully recovered. Afterword, she remained a stay-at-home mom. She loved to read and devoured both racy novels and crossword puzzle books in an effort to exercize her brain and recover from the residual effects of her brain surgery.

Sally truly enjoyed her morning tea - every morning, presented with a cup of Earl Grey, she would take a sip, close her eyes, open them, smile say, "Oh, the first sip, that's just the best... you really have no idea..." and her eyes would just sparkle. She loved the Bahamas and all things Carribean, spicy foods, and cookbooks (but just to look at...), the Rolling Stones, Steve Winwood, arts and crafts and English gardens. But mainly, she loved people.

For our entire time together, Sally remained the sweetest, most selflessly giving person that I have ever met. She was mean to no one and never complained, ever. Although she was infinitely gentle and caring, she was no pushover. She was strong, adventurous, and fearless about some things - she was fearlessly kind. She was funny, friendly, happy, humble, and was liked by everyone who met her. She loved all children, loved her own children very dearly and was a devoted mother and wife. She was clearly loved by all of her friends. Her last words to me were "I love you, too...". She was an angel.

Recollections from her friend, Allison

My fond recollections of Sally, a dear, dear friend.

First met Sally in 1982 in the Bahamas, where we both worked as nurses, at the PMH. Sally had all the qualities I could think of for the perfect nurse. Kind, sympathetic, patient, caring, cheerful, smart, encouraging, gentle. Not a requirement for a nurse but she was beautiful. You only needed to meet Sally once and you knew that you wouldn't forget her. She would put you at ease, she would listen, she was interested in you. There was a special light in her eyes and always a smile on her face. Despite being separated geographically in miles we remained incredibly close. Will never forget how excited she was when I was expecting our first baby, and receiving gifts she had made by hand. We've had lots of coversation about our children and the pleasures they gave us. Our husbands and how lucky we both were. Sally was able to give me great advice, suggested great books to read as she was ahead of me with the birth of the boys. It was wonderful to meet up and stay with Charlie and Sally in Salt Lake City. We were able to meet Jon and baby Mark and become godparents at the christening.

We had a special connection when the children were small. Managed to meet up a couple of times when Charlie and Sally travelled and stopped in LA. We had lots of laughter, a special bond, with our English, nursing and parenting connections. I remember her fun loving personality. always looking on the bright side, her smile, her beautiful face, her skin. Hardly a wrinkle as I recall. Inside a smart, determined strong woman.

In our most recent meeting with all the family, encouraged by Sally's strength and amazed that she never complained. Loved to see how devoted she was to all her children, and how proud she was of them. I will miss our conversations and her contagious laughter. Always remembering her parting words. I love you doll.

Words from Bob Birrell, who knew Sally when she was a teenager
For Sally, with Love
"Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glint on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain,
When you wake in the morning hush.
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night,
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there - I do not sleep."

Spoken by an American Indian.

Recollections from Sophie, Sally's niece and kindred spirit

My first memory of Sally is from when I was about 3 or 4 and she was living with us. I found any excuse to go up to her room and 'hang out'. She had a border of tapes around her room and donated Boy George to me - someone we both thought was very cool with his pink lipstick and permed hair. Although we didn't see her much after she left for hotter climes, she was always very much a fairy godmother-type aunt, sending us massive exciting presents. Alex and I, being her 'girls', were never short of party frocks and lacy pink things.

Sally and I have always had a bond - from when I was her Goofy niece to when I was about 16 and we became proper friends. We have so much in common - we both love watching trashy TV, sitting in bed supping tea, drinking cocktails, gossiping about everyone and everything and discussing the perfect criteria for a 'fit' man (although our verdicts were a bit different - might have to pass on Bono from U2).

I spent 6 weeks with Sally and all her boys the summer before she became ill and I will cherish that time particularly. We did loads of girly stuff and went on a family outing up to disney world with my friend Julia. Even after Sally became ill though she was always excelent fun - never complained, wanted to do everything whether she had the energy or not. She has always had a real lust for life. She never seemed resentful about the tumour and was just really happy with what she'd ended up with in life - a wonderful husband, 4 beautiful children and lots of people who love her so much.

And a poem from Sally's nieces and nephew, Sophie, Richard and Alexandra

'You can shed tears that she is gone'

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


For the best aunt ever, we will miss you so much but we will remember you for all that you have left.
We will love you forever,
S, R & A

Recollections from Barry Press, a friend of Sally and Charlie's
I met Sally about the same time Charlie did, as we were plastic surgery residents together at NYU. I had to chuckle (through tears) reading the recollection from Sally's sister, who remembered that Sally wanted to be a nurse in someplace "exotic." Somehow, "Bellevue" popped into my mind...and seemed mutually exclusive with "exotic."

I can't add any more to what Charlie said about Sally; he used the word "exotic" too. They were obviously incredibly happy together.

The next time I saw them was at a Hand Society meeting years later. I think Sally had been recently operated on. She was different, but the old Sally was definitely still present. Charlie was so protective and tender.

I knew Charlie better than I knew Sally but it is difficult for me to think of one without the other. In important ways, they will always be together. I wish both of them peace.

Recollections from Tim, Sally's brother-in-law
It was as if it was yesterday. Charlie and Sally came to visit Mary Anna, Asia, Max and I in San Francisco. It was the first time I'd met her and wanted so badly to make a good impression so she'd not think Charlie's family was difficult, but alas Mary Anna and I had been quarrelling the previous day and were both grumpy and distracted. But Sally was radiant, beautiful, so civil and charming. I knew Charlie would marry her given a chance. She struck me as genteel, patient and solid, characteristics I'd alway thought of the English. She seemed so young, so delicate and graceful -- and she was, yet I also sensed her inner strenth, another seemingly English trait. Sally, Charlie and I walked around the neighborhood and she clung to him, closely while she took in the sites; the fog off the Bay, the old trees and hilly streets. I couldn't help but think that although Mary Anna and I were too wrapped up in our quarrell to be proper guests that Sally let it role by, swept up as she was in her love affair knowing her future would be bright and warm with her man. I think back on this day knowing that no foul impression of our fleeting domentic discord would matter a twit how she thought of us or Charlie or life at all. I've never been so happy to have such little effect on someone's disposition. Sally's sense of self and her outlook were forever up, she was little effected by the bumps in the road, with more than a stiff upper lip, she kept a smile and wry sense of humor we should all be blessed with.

Recollections from Kathy, who worked with Sally at Children's Medical Services
I worked with Sally before I left CMS 12 yrs ago and a nicer and more wonderful person I have never met. She is a very, very special angel in God's heaven and I know she'll be with all of you in your hearts forever. May god bless each of you.

Recollections from Connie, who was in training at NYU and worked with Sally at Bellevue
I remember the first time I saw Sally. It was at Bellevue Hospital in New York. I was a resident in Plastic surgery and I was struck by the kindness she displayed towards the patients as well as the residents. She was always cheerful…..helpful…..and understanding.

I remember her beautiful face framed by her light, straight hair, wonderful smile, bright eyes and attractive British accent.

I remember how in love she and Charlie were, as they gazed into each others eyes, not noticing that others were around.

I remember the way she held her first born….filled with pride, love and complete peace.

Constance M. Barone, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Professor & Chief
Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Recollections from Micki, a dear friend, and Sally's "YaYa sister"

There are so many special stories of my friendship with Sally, But the one I will never forget is the time we took a trip to North Carolina to see one of her doctors at Duke University. It was a bit of a stressful trip, to say the least.

On the way , we were delayed at the airport, due to many storms in the area. We got to the hotel in the early hours of the next morning, and got about four hours of sleep, only to rush off to the University for Sally's appointment. When we arrived, we were told that she was to start yet another new medication, but Sally always made light of the situations that could be very heavy. We went back to the hotel and had lunch, which she always enjoyed going out to eat.

We talked and laughed about oh so many things. She could always find humor in situations that others would make a big deal out of. When we got back to our room to take a nap, I turned on the TV to watch the news and found out that a hurricane was coming towards Florida. We were scheduled to leave the next day, but I panicked and thought I have to get us home tonight so we would be safe with our families. I called the travel agent and she did some magic and got us a flight out that day, but we had to get right to the airport ASAP. Sally being a team player and as tired as she was, got up, packed her bag and off we went to the airport. We got there just in time to board a plane which took us in a different direction, to catch a plane back to Florida, (due to all the storms in the area) When we got there, we were grounded for about six hours.

During this time, I was praying for God to do something. Sally was busy telling a solider how proud she was of him and all our boys for going to war. She then spotted a lady with three children waiting for their flight. Sally got up again and went over to this lady to tell her what a great job she was doing raising her children. She told the lady she understood what she was going through, for she herself had four boys at home. Sally never missed an opportunity to tell people how proud she was of her boys and how much she loved them and her husband.

When Sally got back to her seat, she saw my head down, and asked "Are you praying again?" I said, "Yes, I am. I don't believe He brought us this far to leave us in an airport". She said "Do you want me to pray?". I said yes, and she lowered her head, and in a way only Sally could, began the most sincere prayer I have ever heard. Nothing fancy, just from the heart. She said "OK, big guy, please do something. My friend wants to get home." And we did get on the next flight.

When I thanked the stewardess for working a double shift to get us to Florida, She said, This has to be a miracle flight. This plane was fully loaded with people and luggage going in another direction when we were told we had to be re-routed because of a group of people at another airport needed to get to Florida.

You see, God does hear the prayers of his children. I know God heard Sally's prayer that night, not for herself, but for the rest of us. She would never ask for herself. I am blessed to know I now have a YaYa angel in heaven watching over us.