Dollie Cole, the colorful, outspoken widow of former General Motors President Ed Cole and a major champion of the National Corvette Museum, died Aug. 24 in Lockhart, Texas. She was 84.
A former model -- including an appearance in a print ad for Dr. Pepper -- she helped establish a high standard for the wife of a Detroit 3 executive when she married Ed Cole, a GM group vice president, in 1964.
Ed Cole was the former chief engineer for Chevrolet, where he led development of the Corvair, and former general manager of Chevrolet at the time of their marriage. He became GM president in 1967 and held that position until 1974.
His capacity for work was so great that Dollie Cole once quipped to a writer that their wedding proclamation should have included, "I now pronounce you man and wife and briefcase."
Her husband’s high-profile role at the world’s biggest car company gave Dollie Cole a unique platform.
She was behind the wheel when the first airbag-equipped GM car, a 1974 cinnamon-colored Oldsmobile Toronado, rolled off the production line in 1973 at a plant in Lansing, Mich.
She had reportedly inspired research into airbags when she complained of having to use a seat belt while wearing a fur coat in a car with her husband in the 1960s.
Ed Cole, who died in a plane crash in Michigan in 1977, had a famous motto: “Kick the hell out of the status quo.” Dollie Cole lived that motto.
“The strongest muscle in my body is my mouth,” she told The New York Times in 1971. "I'm sure a lot of times he (Ed Cole) wishes he could put a sock in my mouth."