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Giovanni "Jonni" Lea Cole

August 4th, 1938 - March 15th, 2024

Giovanni “Jonni” Lea Cole was born on August 4, 1938, and was called home on March 15, 2024, by our dear Lord and Savior. The last 3 years of her life were spent at Forest Ridge Senior Living in Woodland Park, CO. Jonni will be laid to rest with her mother and father at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.


Jonni was preceded in death by her husband, Walter Cole; parents Harwood “Woody” & Mary “Macy” Freeman; and an infant brother, Anthony J. Freeman.


Jonni was born in Colorado Springs and lived there with her parents, and younger brother James Freeman, for all of her young life.  She grew up in a working-class, Catholic family; her dad was a contractor, and her mom worked for The Timken Company. Jonni graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic school in Colorado Springs and later earned an associate degree at Regis College in Denver,


Jonni married George Lino in the early part of life and adopted Brian soon after. Together, they moved to Denver and the marriage dissolved a few years later. Jonni and Brian resided in the Denver-Metro area from then on.  In 1988 Jonni met and fell in love with Walter Cole (Lisa’s dad), and they were married in 1989.   They had many adventures and were married for nearly 20 years before Walter’s passing in 2005.

Serving others was a passion and a gift of Jonni’s. Having a relationship with her heavenly father, Mother Mary and other Saints was especially important to her. She always kept a Rosary by her side. Jonni worked as a volunteer for Catholic Church charities and Stephen Ministries throughout her life. The gift of giving and serving others was one of her greatest joys.


Jonni got involved with Al-Anon in 1969 and continued her involvement for over 50 years. She relied on them for support, became a sponsor for others, a district/group representative, state convention chair and spoke at several conventions/retreats over the years. It was here at Al-Anon, where Jonni made many live-long friendships which she treasured dearly.


Jonni’s maternal grandparents came to America from Italy in the late 1800s and settled in Colorado Springs.  They had nine children which resulted in a very large Italian family. Jonni and her family celebrated and loved being Italian. Jonni embraced this heritage deeply her entire life. For Jonni, being Italian was amore (love)!  As a family, we attended annual Italian festivals, very large family reunions, and carried on with Jonni’s grandmother’s family tradition of ‘Nine Dishes’.  Nine Dishes is an annual Christmas dinner to celebrate the 9 months Mary carried Jesus … a day of cooking with family and friends. In 2017, Jonni achieved a life-long dream of traveling to Italy with her cousins.


Jonni began her 25-year career as an insurance claims adjuster in 1969. She also dabbled in a a few small businesses and real estate ventures in the ‘70s & ‘80s, since Jonni was not one to sit still.  When she was in her mid-‘50s, she decided to make a career change and went back to school attending the Community College of Aurora where she earned her paralegal certificate. Jonni’s employment at a Denver law firm was cut short when her mother’s health declined. Macy moved in with Jonni and Walter’s home in Aurora, CO so they could care for her. Jonni, now in her ‘60s with the entrepreneur ‘bug’ in her, led her to opening the “Giovanni’s Day Spa & Salon”.  She opened the day spa because she wanted women of all ages to feel beautiful. She was also hoping this venture would provide financial opportunities for her grandchildren and help fund a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a disease affecting two of her grandchildren).


Jonni overcame several personal setbacks in her life which managed to have a profound effect on her children and grandchildren. Lisa attributes her strength to her mom; that despite struggle, and in spite of being broken, perseverance wins—and healing will come through faith and hard work.


One of the tools that Jonni kept close was the Serenity prayer: “O God and Heavenly Father, grant me the serenity to accept that which cannot be changed, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know one from the other. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.”


Jonni leaves behind her son Brian (Julie); daughter Lisa (Pieter); grandchildren Anthony (Alisha), Jamie, Josh (Jaci), and Troy; great-grandchildren, Cassie, and Mackenzie; brother Jim Freeman and sister-in-law Jill.


Celebration of Life, 11:00AM, Saturday, April 6, 2024, Woodland Park Church of the Nazarene, 900 Evergreen Heights Drive, Woodland Park, Colorado 80863.


In lieu of flowers or cards please make memorial contributions to CURE SMA,



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Share a favorite memory, send condolences, and honor Giovanni’s life with a heartfelt message.

Alan Biesemeier

We, both Brad and I knew Jonni as a Loving soul. always happy and cheerful. Treated everyone with kindness and respect. Her Seven Dishes event for Christmas was something very special. She will be missed. The word would be a better place if more people had her soul and spirit.

Published April 6th, 2024

Jerry Varrone

Jonni was always my favorite cousin. We went through Grade school and High School together and if it weren't for her I would not have passed any grade. She always had pencil and paper and school books. She never complained and I always knew she was looking out for me. We did not see much of each other after I entered the Seminary but we did have some good contact when she became the State Representative for Alanon. To her credit she gave everything to this organization. I did go to some of her organization workshops and presentations. This is where her true talents took a rightful place in helping her reach her true place of giving all of her best to whatever she attempted. I will miss her dearly and I know that she was an incredible example to all the people she worked for and with. I miss you Jonni!

Published April 4th, 2024

Kristi Gay

I will remember Jonni as a giving, kind hearted person who wanted to help anyone she met. She loved her family and she showed it.

Published April 6th, 2024

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