Family, Friends and the Community Say Goodbye to Johnny Cole

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As I read the tributes submitted about Johnny I realize just how many lives he affected in this area. I find comfort in reading the stories that everyone is sharing about Johnny.

He was my life and my soul mate and I miss him dearly.  Thank you all so very much for sharing your memories of him.

To his WTOC family past and present, all of you held a very special place in his heart.

Debra Cole


The Family of Samuel W. Pilgrim Jr extends our deepest sympathy. My father also passed away May 15th of last year after a short illness. Mr. Cole wrote and reported several stories on my dad's flying career and the aircraft's he built from scratch in his two car garage here in Savannah.

Our Mother Polly, my brother Sam III and myself continue to fly the Piper Cub he restored a few years back. My dad and Johnny were good friends and am sure they are again talking airplanes and flying in a much better place now.

With our Sympathy,
David C. Pilgrim


Mr. Johnny Cole will be missed by many.  Although I never had the opportunity to be one of his nurses while he was recently hospitalized, I would check on him when I was at work.  He and my father had known each other and been friends for many years.

He gave all of his nurses a hard time, but I know him and his personality and I know he appreciated and loved every one of them for the care that they gave to him.

For his sweet and devoted wife, Debra, I could see how much you loved and cared for each other when you were at the hospital.  I only wish I could've checked on him one last time, the day he was taken to Hopsice.  You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Johnny, you fought a great battle.  Rest in Peace.

God Bless,
Cindy Stafford Kendrick, LPN


I'm 17 now and I remember watching Johnny Cole on WTOC when I was little.  I remember sitting in my parents bed watching Jody Chapin too.

But what I remember the most about Johnny Cole was his famous "Remember kids, get hooked on fishing, not drugs" and I think because of him I never have even tried drugs.

I know he  definitely touched my life.


I met Johnny Cole seven or eight years ago when I visited the Chatham model aircraft field to watch a friend fly his radio controlled airplane.  As I observed some of the guys flying and listened to their stories, I was hooked and knew I wanted to adopt this hobby.  Someone said "Here comes Johnny!", and to my surprise, it turned out to be Johnny Cole, who I "knew" from watching the big, red, eleven for many years.  I admit to being a little starstruck, and was reluctant to bother him, but Johnny immediately put me at ease, and turned out to be a friendly, regular, guy.

He knew who I was, and we talked about TV and Radio, and I told him about things I remembered him saying or doing on the air over the years.  During the conversation, it came out that I wanted to buy one of those R/C airplanes, and Johnny had one he said he'd sell me.  I learned to fly on that airplane, and was proud that it was a "Johnny Cole" airplane.

A couple years later, I purchased another one from him, and have always been proud of that one too.  Both of them are "keepers", and I'll own them forever.   Johnny Cole was real.  He was good at what he did, and had the gift of making people feel welcome and at ease.  I regret that I didn't get to spend more time with him over the last couple of years, but I learned from him, and my life is fuller for having known him and for being able to spend some time with him.  He brought us many smiles.  We miss you John...

Mac Beauchat "Big Mac"
KIX96 Radio


Dear Friends at WTOC,

I am so sorry to hear about Johnny's passing yesterday.  I worked with him in the mid 1980s and I have so many wonderful memories.  Johnny was a joy to work with...he waited outside of the station every morning to walk me from my car to the door.  He thought it was too dangerous at that time in morning for a young female to walk alone.

He always made me laugh when he and Avis Coleman got into arguments, of course it was all in fun.

I remember the huge vegetables he used to show on-air. One day he brought me a very large watermelon to give to my dad.  My dad still asks about Johnny to this day!

Johnny had such an easy going attitude, no pressure and always telling jokes.  He taught me alot about anchoring and I loved knowing him.  Johnny will be missed


Cindy Preszler
Chief Meteorologist
St. Louis


I remember growing up watching Johnny Cole and always enjoyed what ever he was doing on WTOC. Sorry to hear about him passing, but he's in better hands now.

George Waters


Johnny did what every Granddad should do, always simply the day's troubles and remind us of one life's simple pleasures... fishing.

God Bless, and we will miss you.
David James


I have some wonderful memories of Johnny Cole. Back in the early '70s, a group of golfers from Savannah went to the Masters in Augusta. I didn't have a pass and Johnny loaned me one of his, after walking around for a few hours, the security came up to me and said, "You don't look like Johnny Cole" and escorted me to the tent and out the gate. Johnny came out and brought me another pass and we went back inside and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Also when I moved to Brooklet and he moved up there, he was very active with the Peanut Festival and slow tractor race.

We all have loved him for many years and will miss his laughter and jokes and smiling face.

God bless his family, I know they will miss him and all of this city and surrounding counties, especially Doug Weathers.

Faye Cunningham


Johnny Cole was a terrific man with loads of personality! I took over Johnny's desk at WTOC as a South Carolina Gamecock and Johnny would often come to visit and remind me that Clemson was the only "real school" in South Carolina.

Johnny could make everyone laugh and he will be missed!

Kim Angelastro
Former WTOC reporter/anchor


To the people of Savannah, he was Johnny Cole or "Skipper Jack".  To me, he was my Uncle Rudy (as I called him) or JR to the rest of the family. I didn't know him very well because he lived in Savannah, but I still cared for him so far away.  He could always keep me straight over the phone.  I regret I never got to visit him in Savannah for St. Patrick's Day (to be around a celeb of the town) or fly those RC planes he always told me about.

I loved my uncle's sense of humor, that smile on his chubby face and the funny family stories he always told. I will miss him a bunch and I know he will keep a watch over the family from above with Papa Hovie and Big Granny.  I love you buddy.

P.S. Send a little luck my way to finally win the Cole Family Christmas Bingo Quilt!! And say hello to Uncle Gene too!

Corey S. Cole
Anderson SC


Johnny Cole made working at WTOC an experience I'll never forget.  Back when I was a fledgling videographer, I had the task of shooting for Johnny on many occasions. Let me just say that none of the stories we covered were ever boring, the main reason, the car rides along the way.

Johnny would NEVER let me drive.  According to Johnny, women didn't need to drive if there was a man present.  Always the gentleman, he would never tell me the real reason he didn't like women drivers.  Needless to say he was always a gentleman and I do mean that from the bottom of my heart.

A typical day behind the wheel with Johnny would always start the same. News would break out over the scanner and it would be moments before I would hear his distinct voice.  "NIKKI! NIKKI! GOOD LORD O'L MIGHTY WHERE ARE YOU WOMAN?!" His voice would boom across the newsroom. "DARL'N GRAB THAT CAMERA OF YOURS AND LETS GET ON WITH IT!"

He always had his hand stretched out.  To me, this meant handing over my keys and to start praying, for I knew in the next 15 minutes, my life would be in the hands of this man. After hustling out to the carport, he'd open the car door for me, and in classic Johnny form he would always say, "Okay woman! Sit down and strap yourself in because I'm taking the wheel behind this car so you better hang on!"  Just as I would hear my seatbelt click into the locked position, smoke would start roasting from the back tires. As Johnny slammed the gears into drive, and his foot on the gas, my head would always snap back right before our news car launched out of the WTOC parking lot.

We would spend countless trips blazing down one of Chatham County's many streets in route to catch up with the latest breaking news.   As an avid NASCAR fan, I would see Johnny's facial expression.  It was as if he was fantasizing being on an actual racetrack. With the peddle to the metal he would send our little news car sailing through the air every time we hit any sort of bump on the road. I can't even begin to tell you what driving down River Street was like with Johnny behind the wheel.  Keep in mind our trips down River Street were back when it was still legal to drive in both directions and a train still passed down it. The number of Hail Mary prayers I was able to knock off, whenever Johnny turned the car down one of the many ramps, amazed me.

Why I never jumped out of the car in hopes of saving my own life is still a mystery to me.  My guess is that no matter where we were going and no matter how fast Johnny sped to get us there; I did in fact trust him.  I trusted him with every ounce of my being.

Johnny Cole was one of a kind.  If I had to go back in time, I'd do it in a heartbeat if it meant being able to take one more ride with him.

Rest in Peace my goodfella!  You will be missed.

Nicole Teigen
Former Videographer/Reporter WTOC 1999-2006


I worked with Johnny from 1997 until he retired. He was the reason I worked at WTOC and I will always be grateful for the time I worked with him. Johnny could be tough on you, especially if you messed up on the teleprompter. If you did, you knew a flying pencil would be on the way.

Johnny married my best friend's mother so I got to spend time with Johnny outside of work. We would sit around on Sundays and watch NASCAR racing. Watching racing with Johnny Cole was one of the funniest things I have ever done.

Johnny, you were a great friend and mentor and I will always be thankful for knowing you. I am grateful that I got to say goodbye on Monday afternoon.

I love you and I miss you!

Robert Osbourne
Former Director WTOC-TV


I am saddened by the news of Johnny's passing.

Many of us knew of Johnny on the afternoon children's show, "Skipper Jack and Friends", where Johnny hosted all of those old great Popeye cartoons.  I suppose he was in his element on that TV set, that of being on a boat and teaching kids right from wrong.

I'll always remember his kindness to me over the years.  Whenever we had the chance to play golf together, those were always a treat because it was a time and place where Johnny could relax.  Knowing how he loved fishing, he'd talk about fishing on the golf course and golf while he was fishing.  And we're not even gonna start about his love for racing and NASCAR!

To David, who he proudly loved so much, and to Johnny's family and extended family at WTOC, I offer my support and my prayers for your comfort and strength.  We have lost a fine man and a great friend.  I'm sure that somewhere up above today, the fish are biting and Johnny has a huge smile on his face.  He brought so many to me over the years.

Chip Chambers


Johnny was a very special person who touched so many lives. During his Skipper Jack days, Johnny would film historic sites all over Savannah. When he was filming at Fort Pulaski one day, our Tybee Girl Scout troop was there and he asked us to be in the segment. He then would call us and ask us to go to the various sites with him and act as tour guide. He then would give me some insight into the site, and would have me handle the tour. At the end of the year, he presented us with a copy of all of the segments.

As a Freshman at St. Vincent's, I was required to obtain a lock of Skipper Jack's hair as part of the Senior/Freshman initiation. I wrote Johnny a letter requesting this. Johnny wrote me back stating that he didn't have enough hair to share, but would an autographed picture of Skipper Jack work?   When he covered the goings on at Tybee for WTOC, we became reacquainted. I used to kid him and call him Skipper Jack. I reminded him of the photo he sent and that I still had it 20 some years later. The next time he came by City Hall, I had it hanging in my office. I still have that picture today.

Skipper Jack, you were my hero. You will be missed.    
Angela Rimedio-Byers


After Johnny Cole retired, he moved on Hwy 46 in Bulloch county and he opened a little BBQ restaurant. I work for a senior citizens center in Pooler and I took my senior citizens there for lunch.

The day we ate there, it was one of my senior's birthday and I took a cake to him on the day before so he could surprise Nell with a birthday cake. While eating, he came out and ask "who is Nell" and she said, "I am." He was holding the cake and sang happy birthday to her.

We all had a very nice day and I'm not sure if Johnny Cole or my seniors had more fun that day.


My condolences to Johnny's family and to everyone at WTOC.

He was well loved around all of Southeast Georgia. Anytime I catch a fish, I'll raise it in honor of Johnny.

God bless Johnny...

Jodi Shaner
Pembroke, GA


Johnny Cole came to me in near the end of 1988 when the current producer for THE News At Daybreak had handed in his resignation.  Johnny asked me to take on the job, although working all night with the very limited knowledge I had, was intimidating.

Johnny sensed my apprehension and said not to worry, he'd be there to help me through the rough parts.

At that time, Jody Chapin was doing the weather and Johnny was anchoring the news.  Soon they'd be together on the set cutting up and causing a lot of people to watch WTOC THE News At Daybreak.

I got yelled at a lot during those times, but the wealth of knowledge I learned can't be measured.  And I knew when Johnny yelled, it was out of love, not anger.

Johnny, I'll always miss you, and to his family left behind, I am always here for you.


Steven Shoob


I was sorry to hear of Johnny's passing. I knew Johnny for a lot of years. We played  golf at Bacon Park many years ago.

I ran into him again at the radio control model airplane field some years later. We both played with the planes for a number of years. Heck, he filmed me one day at the model field with a fishing story for a Fish Finder segment.

We had a common interest in fishing also. I always liked old Johnny. I'm sure he will be missed by many.

Dave Stefanick


I began working with Johnny in 1996.  I was a kid fresh out of high school from Glennville, Georgia with really nothing to offer, (but they still hired me.)  I worked on the Daybreak crew learning the ropes as I went.  I remember Johnny being one of the first to make me feel
comfortable because I'm sure he could tell that I was nervous.  I was working with a man that I had always watched on TV and it was a bit overwhelming for a small town kid like me.

My comfort level soon grew with Johnny and it wasn't long before we were trading jabs at each
other between commercial breaks, him behind the anchor desk and me behind the camera.  We had such a good time in the mornings and I remember that I couldn't wait to come to work.  Johnny was special because, in his own way, he made the job enjoyable and fun.

When I was promoted to Director of THE News at Daybreak, he usually overlooked my rookie mistakes, like when I punched up the wrong camera or didn't proofread a graphic before taking it to air and never really gave me a hard time, (well, almost never.  I too, got my share of yelling but it made me better at my job.)

Johnny was a great person and those few years at WTOC working with him were some of the best of my career and I feel lucky to have had the chance to experience it.

God bless his family.

Ruben Melendez
Former WTOC Director


My heart is broken!  My family loved Johnny Cole and missed his "Fishing with Johnny" after he left the station.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his WTOC family.

Beverly Cribbs


Always a gentleman, down to earth and approachable.  Mr. Cole was more than a reporter, he was a "personality" that you welcomed into your home.

He was seen all over Savannah, from Oglethorpe Speedway to sands of Tybee Island and beyond. Icons like him are sorely missed. Today, for the most part, we have talking heads in TV newscasts.

My condolences to both his families, those at home and his extended family at WTOC.

Michael L. Shortt
Savannah, Georgia


I'll always remember starting my days with Johnny & Jodie. And of course, Jonny's unpretentious manner and fishing tips.

Godspeed Johnny


We will miss you Johnny. A part of South Georgia died when you passed.

God Bless.

Mike Kile


Johnny was my older brother. He started in radio at a young age and found his vocation. When he arrived in Savannah, he found his home. He never wanted to live anywhere else but there.

It was so much fun for us to come visit him and when we would go out to eat, he would be recognized and everyone wanted to talk to him about fishing.

I loved him very much and will miss his phone calls to tell me all that was going on in his life.

Mary (Cole) Isbell


As Johnny's stepson and long time tormentor, I have many fond memories of the great man. My personal favorite has to be from before he married my mother.

It was my first day off from a local marina I worked at in almost 6 months. All I could think about was getting to sleep in. I was so rudely awakened by a knock on my bedroom window at about 7am. I peek through the blinds and Johnny yells "put on a marina shirt and get out here!"

More asleep than awake, I walked out the door and he handed me a microphone and put a camera in my face.  It seems he had forgotten to film his fishfinder clip and needed a report in a hurry. We filmed it right there in the front yard. It was a good thing he only shot me from the waist up.... I was only in a marina shirt and my underwear!

I wish to thank everyone for the great outpouring of sympathy our family has recieved. Johnny played a lot of important roles throughtout his life, but I will always remember him as the man who made my mom so happy for the past few years.

Jason Donnelly


When I first started my career with the Chatham County Police Department in 1975, I met Johnny Cole at a traffic accident I was handling. We became good friends from that point on.

It seemed that no matter what kind of a call I was dispatched to, he would show up. I asked him one day about it and he said that he knew my call number about as good as I did and when he heard over the scanner my number being called, he had to come and harrass me.

I am really going to miss him. He was a great person. From me to Johnny. "May You Rest In Peace".

JJ Etzle     
Chatham County Police Department, Retired.


A little long, but Johnny was worth the effort:

As I have nearly every morning since I was around 5-years-old, I woke this morning and turned on WTOC's The News at Daybreak. Unfortunately this day was filled with horrible news.  As a kid, I woke up to Johnny every morning.

There was no cable in the sticks, so we got ready to go to school every morning while listening/watching his morning news on WTOC.  Johnny and Jody were welcomed into our home each day.  It seemed that he was always happy to be bringing the news to the masses.  He was always upbeat to have gotten up at 4:00 in the morning.  He always dressed in a green blazer for St Patricks Day and he always promoted the small town festivals around the region.

My fondest memory of Johnny was of course Johnny's Fish Finder.  I never missed the Friday morning update because he always told me where the fish were biting and what I could use to catch a mess.  It always seemed to be "crickets for bream," but every once in a while he'd tell you of the secret chartruse beetle spin with the black belly that was killing them over at Simmons Mill Pond.  He ended the segment the same way each week.  "Kids, let me tell ya, get hooked on fishing, not drugs. 'Till next week, I'm Johnny Cole."

After his retirement, he moved to Bulloch County and opened a bait store and BBQ joint.  So star struck, me and my friend Stephen rode bikes all the way from Stilson to HWY 46 one day to meet the legend and have a sandwich.  What a nice guy he was.  To a couple of 15-year-olds, he was a legend, the most famous person we had ever met.

We chatted about fishing, good barbecue and where we were from. Once we told him how far we had ridden, he quizzed, "do your folks know that you came here?"  Upon telling him no, he encouraged us to head home safely.  He did however, invite us back any time we wanted to come (by car of course).

I've missed Johnny on TV since his retirement.  His store closed long ago as well.  Like so many others, he fell victim to a horrible diesease.  Cancer does not discriminate it seems.   I like to think that now Johnny is along the banks of the eternal celestial fresh water fishing hole, sharing fishing tips with my grandfather and others.  I hear the bream are biting crickets and the catfish are hitting pinks on the bottom Johnny.

While I don't fish as often as I'd like these days, I've still kept away from the drugs.  I'll never forget you.  God bless you sir.

Alex Grovenstein
Stilson, GA


Back in the early 90's, Mr. Cole came to Glennville for the annual "Get Hooked on Fishin Not Drugs" tournament for young children.  Our son Jarrod was around 5-years-old. We had showed him the news the day before and told him that Mr. Cole would be there at the tournament.  He was so excited that he was going to meet someone from TV (so were Jarrod's parents).

The next morning we were at the park early.  I don't really know what we were expecting him to be like, but we were surprised when he showed up in an old car.  He was like a member of the family.  Just as friendly and easy to talk to.

Our son didn't catch any fish that day but Mr. Cole did pose for a picture with him.  The next time they had show-and-tell at school he took the picture.  He called it his "fishin with Johnny picture". He would tote it around until I had to finally put it in an album for safe keeping.

Our son is now 20-years-old and he still remembers the day he fished with Johnny.

Mr. Cole will be sadly missed by alot of people. Our prayers are with his family.  If there is fishin in heaven, you can be sure that Mr. Cole is sittin on a bank.

Lynn, Rod and Jarrod Hederson


I worked with Johnny for one year, from1987 to 1988. I was his show producer, I was his writer, photographer, editor, coffee maker, personal cigarette lighter -- the man never had a pack of matches or a lighter with fuel. I would've made candlesticks if he asked.

Cindy Preszler gave the weather report back then.  Her pristine prettiness was in perfect contrast to his cranky contentiousness. She was great as his foil. Then Jody Chapin came along. Smart, sharp, drop dead and Johnny's match.

I remember one morning, after Jody's forecast, she was back at the anchor desk and quizzed Johnny on historic events of that particular day.

Jody had a sheet of paper with notes she set at the desk.   "...Rudolph Valentino, on this date in 1926, died in New York. Do you know how old he was?"

Johnny shrugged and slightly tilted his head in shame, "I peaked."

Jody looked at Johnny, then the camera, "What fun are you?"

On my desk, I had an electric clock and on its second-hand I taped small black and white cutouts of Doug Weathers and Johnny Cole. Two of Savannah's best-known faces and a pair of great buds who should've made a "road picture" together.  There was Doug's smiling face surrounded by a halo of silver and Johnny with a sideway smile in his Skipper Jack cap. And the two would go round and round and get nowhere.

A small tribute, in my mind, to two long-time buddies who were at their best when trying to one-upsmanship the other.   I don't think many people knew this, but off camera they were a hybrid of Hope and Crosby, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis and even Thelma and Louise. Throw in the late Jim Hildebrandt and you had the Three Stooges Gold Edition.

Johnny griped a lot. But he was always much more generous, and a pat on the back was like winning an Oscar. He might yell, but he was not afraid to say "good job". You had to WORK for it, but he would give it to you.

Made the best. Incredible man. Fantastic human. God's right-hand clown. And there are a ton of people ready to welcome Johnny Cole.

Trino Martinez


To hear of  Johnny Cole's passing greatly saddened me. I recall waiting on him at the old Schwobelt Clothing store back in the early 60s.

He was a leading DJ at a local radio station at the time but was applying to WTOC TV for a position.  I remember him asking my opinion about perhaps getting a hair piece or toupee (yep, his head was just as shiny then as in his latter years).

I told him I didn't think it would really matter as his personality was his real asset.

We've really missed him on WTOC and his segment sign off, ''Get hooked on fishing, not on drugs..."

Our condolences to his family.

Ron Parker


In my capacity with the GSP, I talked to Johnny often when he was working on an accident story or other story that involved the State Patrol. Our conversation would turn to fishing, more specifically what was biting at Simmons Pond.  I had a membership at Simmons Pond and saw Johnny there from time to time.

I would visit Johnny at his Cole's Country Corner when I was down that way. My intention was to support his business and talk to my friend.  Each time he would say, "I hope you are not reaching for your wallet because your money does not spend in here".

Johnny was a Great American. Rest in Peace.

Robert Martin


We grew up in the country in Alma, Georgia and we could only get three television stations by antennae back then. Johnny Cole sold my family on WTOC back then and ever since.

My whole family would gather around the TV in the mornings to watch while getting ready for the school bus to come by and pick us up. They don't make them like that anymore.

You will be missed!

The Courson's
Alma, Georgia


Johnny was my uncle.  My fondest memories of him are when I lived in Cape Canaveral, Florida and my momther and father were in Upstate South Carolina.  I used Johnny's house as a "weigh station" between  FL and SC whenever I went home to visit my parents.

He and I would sit and talk about the family, fishing, golf. I will never forget the first time I was trying to find his house.  I am lost in Savannah. I made a turn from the wrong lane at the last minute and a Savannah Police Officer pulled me over.  I told him I was trying to find my uncle's place.  When I told him it was Johnny Cole, he said "Follow me, honey.  I know where he lives."

Yes, he loved fishing, golf and NASCAR.  But he loved Savannah more than anything else. I see that Savannah loved him too.

Patricia Isbell


Back in the mid 80's I was bartending at "Wally's Sixpence" on Bull St. and since I worked nights I never watched the news in the morning or at noon as I was usually sleeping.

One evening after the "happy hour" a man came in and asked me if Wally was there when I informed him Wally had left for the evening he asked me to tell Wally that "he" had stopped in, so very innocently I asked him who he was and at that he informed me very sternly that he was Johnny Cole and still seeing a questioning look on my face, he said he was a news anchor on WTOC on the morning and noon show and with that he promptly left.

The next day I watched the noon news and sure enough there he was doing the fishing and agriculture report, so several days later Johnny came back in during a busy happy hour and when he caught my eye I loudly told him, "yeah I know who you are now. Your the pig and fish guy on the news!"

Johnny laughed so hard I thought he would cry. Several months later Johnny was talking to me about doing a spot on his fishing report spotlighting local kids with a picture of them with their "catch" so I brought him in a picture of my young daughter that was taken when she caught her first fish. He asked if he could borrow it and told me to make sure I watched the noon news the next day and lo-and-behold, Johnny put the picture on the news so she was the first in what turned out to be hundreds of kids shown on the noon news with their first fish.

I will never forget Johnny Cole.

Nancy A. Buttimer


I am WTOC'S Promtor King Mark Zeigler. I admitt to everyone that WTOC'S Mr. Handsome Johnny did throw pencils at me, but not all on one day. One of the times that Johnny threw a pencil at me he called me to his desk in the newsroom and he said the reason why he threw the pencil at me was to help me keep the promptor words where he could read them.

After he said that to me he said no hard feelings and I Love You. I told him no problem and I thanked him for throwing the pencils at me so that I could be a better Promptor Operator for
him and to the other anchors as well. It has always been an Honer/Privilage/Blessing to operate the promptor for WTOC'S Mr. Handsome Johnny.

It is still an Honer/Blessing/Privilage to operate the promptor for Steven Shoob/Mike Cihla/Dave
Turley/Karla/Jody/Gator Sonny/Pat Prokop/Dawn Baker/Mike Manhattin/Don Lagonna/Brook/Michelle/Melanie/Andrew and David Hall.

In the past I have also enjoyed Johnny's BBQ and his favorite secret BBQ sauce.

I am going to miss you to as well Johnny. This is for you WTOC'S Mr. Handsome Dave Cole{ Bless You My Father}. Lord put your blessings on the whole Cole Family, Amen.

From Mark Zeigler.


We had just arrived here in May 1988, at HAAF, from Germany. Getting up for PT and watching THE News at Daybreak, with Johnny Cole and Jody Chapin, was like catching up with old friends about what was happening in our area.

Johnny and Jody were great together, almost magical. Johnny seemed more like a favorite uncle, and came across as a dear friend, a regular person!

Johnny, you made us feel like we were home, even though we were just passing through! So much so, that we made our home here in the Coastal Empire! Never got to meet you, but, we love and miss you!

Jackie and Ardell Farr


I met Johnny in 1972 when I joined the Savannah chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association. I was a new student pilot at Savannah Air Service. He was a commercial rated pilot and a licensed flight instructor.  He was also in the process of building an experimental aircraft in his workshop at his home in south Savannah (near Thunderbolt). I believe it was a Fly Baby, powered by a modified Volkswagon automobile engine. He and Robin Brown, a Viet Nam veteran Cobra pilot turned flight instructor, talked me into going over to Hopeton Plantion Airfield (a 1,700' grass strip on Hubert Kellers farm) to fly "real" airplanes.

Robin taught me to fly and soloed me in the Aeronca Champ (taildragger) and then I bought a Cessna 170 (larger taildragger). Johnny took over and led me through the upgrade to the 170. He was one cool character! I can still see his face as I danced the 170 down the runway at Travis Field on one wheel with the wing inches off the pavement in a crosswind landing. After I got three wheels firmly down, he calmly said "let's do that again, three wheels this time! OK? We spent some very happy hours together in the air as he honed my skills as a pilot.

One day we were out over Daufuskie at about 3000' and I was "under the hood" practicing instrument flying (able to see only the instrument panel) and Johnny said "Parker take off the hood, you've gotta see this"! We were between broken cloud layers and the sun was shining through the breaks in a way I've never seen, before or since. It was as if we passed through a small corner of Heaven. Johnny saw and felt it and wanted me to share it.

As a CFI he signed me off to take the FAA flight test for Private Pilot. I passed the test on the first try, solely because of the patience and skill of Johnny Cole. And, yes, he finished and flew the Fly Baby many times until a minor mishap during a landing at Hopeton.

I sold the 170 in 1974 because of a career change and have not flown since. After that I never saw Johnny except on WTOC but always had a deep respect for him. I had been thinking of looking him up just recently but didn't get to. He was truly a character, with CHARACTER!

I know all of you at WTOC will miss him greatly. But, think of how many lives he touched and brightened while he was here. Few of us who remain will even come close!

I think of Johnny and I think of that day over Daufuskie. He showed me a small corner of Heaven. Maybe I'll get him to show me the rest of it one day.

God Bless You All,

Parker Sutler


My Husband and I first came to Savannah GA in 1996, what a pleasure to get to know Johnny Cole on WTOC, the Big Red 11.

It was just a couple of years later we saw him out at Crystal Lake when Miss Crystal was caught for $4000.00. The first thought was OMG that is Johnny Cole! The next thought was we are skipping out of work this Monday morning and we are fixen to be on the news.

We all told Johnny what we were doing and the camera was off of us. He was such a great man in Savannah GA. We have always talked of him. We will always miss him too.

Thank you for Mr. Johnny Cole.

Always your Friends, Love 
Rick and Kim Magruder
Savannah, GA


John was a member of our online nascar racing league. All of the members of Redline League grew very fond of John, and one of our members was lucky enough to meet him in person. The rest of us never met him, but talked with him on the computer.

John loved racing with us,as we loved racing with him. He was always keeping us younger guys in line, and correcting our english. His racing name was Moki, I think he mentioned the name had something to do with model airplanes.

John was always telling us about his beautiful bride, whom we also came to adore tremendously. John always had time to listen and talk to everyone of us.

I am proud to have known John,and will never forget him.

John (Hoosier) Marion     


I can  remember when I was probably 14 or 15, when I first met Johnny Cole. At the time I was working for a charter boat.

That day we had caught a big snapper that weighed, if I remember correctly 40 lbs. When we returned to the dock that day, we called Johnny and asked him if he had a fishing story for the week yet. Of course he said yes, but he was always ready to add something to it.

Well we drove all the way from Thunderblot marina to WTOC on chatham parkway so he could do the interview and film that fish for his report as well.

The day that Johnny retired, I knew that I would no longer hear his fishing reports. But everyday that I went fishing ,whether it was salt water or fresh, I could hear in my head those famous words"Kids get hooked on fishing not drugs. 'Till next time, I am Johnny cole."

Johnny will surely be missed by me and my family. We would like to send or sincere gratitude to the family, and let them know they are in our prayers.

Thank you Johnny.

Kathy Dunn


My family and I would like to send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the great Mr. Johnny Cole.

JOHNNY REST IN PEACE, YOU WILL BE MISSED                                                                                                                         

ROBERT & LYNN  GIRVIN                                                                   


JR was my brother-in-law, an older brother for my husband Willis and also for Mary and Marge. Debra, JR, Will and I were all together not long ago when Willis was still able to get around.

Willis visited with his brother for a day and we all went to dinner together and had a great time. I can still remember his wedding to Debra, such a special day. Will and I were just dating.  Debra is a special lady and JR had that "Cole" personality. They were great together!

Will and I will miss talking to him on the phone because he was very dedicated to calling and checking up on his little brother.

JR - if you are reading this, Will says to say hello to mom and dad for him -

Love you
Suzanne Cole


I am saddened to hear the Johnny Cole has passed away. I always enjoyed listening to him on WTOC when visiting Midway Ga.

After his retirement I often asked about him. He will be missed. What a voice he had.

Rest in Peace Johnny, my thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Otha Walker
Tallahassee FL


After six years in USMC, my first job was at WTOC-TV AM/FM with the Engineering department, 1967-1970. Johnny had taken over as Skipper Jack with Popeye cartoons.

I was the remote Engineer for high school Basketball and Football. Johnny was the commentator. I had set up at Groves' Westside Stadium when Johnny showed up. Several children gasped and said "Oh my gosh, Skipper Jack is BALD!".


Johnny, you will be missed by so many people. We all love you and Doug Weathers, you two were the best .

We will always remember those words now, "get hooked on fishing, not drugs."

Loved by everybody in Bulloch County. May you rest in peace.

Love you,
Jean in Portal, GA


Johnny Cole and I go back many years! I started running fishing charters when I was about 15 year old. During this time frame the United States Coast Guard respectfully requested that I obtain "letters of competence" from persons qualified to attest to my abilities. Johnny Cole was one of the first to step forward to compose a letter and sign on the dotted line. This letter became part of the documents that were in my file, which was labeled "the illegal captain!"

Over the years Johnny and I worked together on many things from television to fishing. One day Johnny Cole became "Captain Cole" and became a member of "Miss Judy Charters Fishing Team." He bought himself a boat to which he named "Miss Molly." It was a great 24-foot boat with inshore and near shore capabilities. He fixed her up in "Johnny Cole Style!" During this time frame, he took many interesting people fishing. Occasionally he was asked to just take customers on plain boat rides! I remember this one time in particular where he was asked to take a young just married "good looking" couple out for ride through the Intracoastal Waterway. The chartered boat ride started out normal. However, I wouldn't be mentioning this if that were the case. About one hour into the "sunny day riding affair" the couple asked, "Could they sun in the nude?" Captain Cole, even though this was exciting, wasn't sure exactly how to answer, but it came out anyhow, "yes of course!" According to the story, at least Captain Cole's version, "clothes started flying off!" As Johnny made his way down the waterway, not trying to look, while passing under one of Turner Creek bridges his wife at the time caught a glimpse of the "bare facts!" You know the old saying, "news travels fast, but real good news flies faster than the news man!" The only way that I can correctly sum this story up is to report the facts: Everyone everywhere knew before Captain Cole returned back to the dock! The phones were ringing and the VHF radios were humming! Some one should have taken a picture!

Then there was this time when Captain Cole was "taking a personal fishing holiday!" He and a small group had decided to head out to the beachfront so as to do a little Spanish and king mackerel fishing. The fishing trip turned out great with all on deck catching quite a few fish. When all were tired, including Captain Cole, sights were set for home, as Captain Cole rounded "red marker 16" in Warsaw Sound he lined up with "red marker 20." Had it not been real low tide this story would have not needed to be told! As he made his way at 21 knots and as soon as the "Miss Molly" ran out of water she grounded on the sand bar. The good news was that no one was hurt and the boat wasn't damaged! However, navigator Captain Cole called up the powers that be and strongly suggested that another navigational aid be placed between the two red markers. It didn't take long before the Coast Guard buoy tender made way to the area and placed the badly needed day marker. From this day the navigational aid became known as and is still called the "Johnny Cole Marker!"

My first mate of over thirty years Captain Ali Young and Captain Cole had an understanding. They both basically said what they thought and thought what they said was "right on!" However, the bad news is that I can't print many of the subjects that they talked about! So I will do what I do best, which is tell most of the facts. He was forever asking Captain Ali, which he always referred to as "Miss Turner Creek," questions that he knew he couldn't use the answers on the air. However, the show always went on, but the tape was never used!

I could go on and on with great stories about my wonderful Johnny Cole. I would just like to say, "if there wasn't a Johnny, many a smile and laugh would have been lost for sure!" Many will miss Johnny Cole! I bet he has "got a big fish hooked up right now!"

Captain Judy Helmey of Miss Judy Charters


I remember Johnny Cole quite well. As a retired officer of the Savannah Police Deptartment, I made contect with Johnny a number of times.

I found him to be very good at his job. If a police officer had a case of interest, he knew he could contact Johnny any time of day or night. Johnny was a reporter that could always be trusted. He would report the story as the officer wanted it reported.

I visited Johnny in the hospital just before his death and had a very good visit with him. When I retired in 1995, Johnny came to the police department and covered my retirement ceremony.

I will miss you old friend.

Pete Stafford


I've only known Johnny Cole (Moki) since 11-06, but his friendship will last a lifetime.

Moki and I raced online but talked about the North East Georgia Mountains, trout fishing, Nascar and his love for Debra (his beautiful bride).

I would leave work early to talk to him and race him online. He told wonderful stories about his BBQ place, his son David and his grandchildren. Especially the baseball games. He even let his grandchildren say, "hi" to us.

Our lives have been blessed for knowing Johnny (Moki). I only wish I could've spent more time with him and got to know him more.

Thank You Moki, I owe you some crab legs, Sir.

{RLR Itchy}