On February 14, 2023, Toni Jean “Jeannie” Cole had a peaceful passing in San Diego, CA at the age of 73. Jeannie was the second child born to Warren and Betty Sue Charles in Wichita, KS in 1949, and grew up in a loving family with her older sister (Betty Charles Gray) and three younger brothers (Warren “Butch” Charles, Richard “Rick” Charles, and Gary Charles). An aspiring artist in high school, Jeannie graduated from Campus High School in 1968. After she began college, she was swept off her feet by a Navy man, and she married Steven Cole in Haysville, KS on June 23, 1972… on the 25th anniversary of her new parent-in-laws (Gene & Claudine Cole) and the 47th anniversary of her new grandparents-in-law (Glenn & Martha Castor).
After honeymooning in Acapulco, Mexico, the adventure continued for the newlyweds as they moved from Kansas to Corpus Christi, TX; to Norwich, CT where she worked for Congressman Chris Dodd (CT 2 nd District); and on to Newport News, VA. Following the birth of their only child, Kristen Cole, they moved back to Wichita, KS in 1977 to make their home with their families for nine years, while Jeannie worked as a legal secretary for Attorney Calvin McMillan, a man she greatly respected the rest of her life. The family relocated to San Diego, CA in 1986 and made their home in Santee, CA from 1988 to 2003, as Jeannie continued her career as a Legal Secretary, working for Attorneys Anthony Delellis and Pierre Vaughn until she retired in 1993, when her mental illness made working difficult. Beginning as a young adult, Jeannie suffered every couple of years with episodes of bipolar disorder, that was difficult for all that knew and loved her. Jeannie’s last episode was 12 years ago in the Fall of 2011. Despite the difficulties of living with a mental illness, Jeannie was a devoted mother who excelled at cooking, sewing, typing, crochet, organizing, being creative, leaving lists written in shorthand around, and teaching her daughter all she knew. She loved reading romance novels, listening to Patsy Cline, giving thoughtful gifts, raising cats and dogs, and was a wicked poker player who shared her love of table-top games, cards, tennis, and ping pong with her daughter. When her family wasn’t playing games with her, she could often be found making new friends at poker tournaments or playing bingo at nearby casinos.
Following Steve’s retirement from his post-Navy career with the telecommunications company Sapura America in 2003, Jeannie and Steve moved back to Kansas and bought a home in Kechi, KS. The couple divorced in 2010, and Jeannie moved back to Wichita and spent much of her time with her new chihuahua Tinkerbell, playing cards with her sister Betsy, and indulging her
love of novels by authors such as Danielle Steel. On New Year’s Eve 2020, Jeannie slipped on the ice at home and broke her leg. She moved in with her daughter’s family in San Diego to rehabilitate and to get to know her granddaughters.
Despite being wheelchair bound and not getting to drive anymore, she stayed in good spirits and always had a ready smile. In December 2021, she suffered from sepsis and a debilitating spinal stroke which left her paralyzed from the chest down, and nearly deaf. The loss of her mobility and hearing was very difficult on her, and her health took a downward turn after that.
She is survived by her loving family including her daughter, Kristen Skidmore Mitten (husband Robert Skidmore); her granddaughters Sabrina (14) and Chloe (12) Mitten, sister Betty Charles Gray and brother Gary Charles (Debbie), both of Wichita, and brother Warren “Butch” Charles (Ginger) of Greenwood, AR, and sister-in-law Ginny of Wichita, and cousins, nieces and
nephews. She was preceded in death by brother Richard “Rick” Charles and her parents, all of Wichita.
Jeannie will be warmly remembered for her giving heart, her many skills and talents, and her kind smile.