Charles Cole was born in June 1876 and grew up in the Coudersport area. He showed an early aptitude for sales and began a career selling pianos and organs for Smith Music Company in Olean, N.Y. His association with John Patterson, then president of the National Cash Register Company, brought him in contact with Thomas Watson. When Watson set out to establish his own business, the Rochester Time and Recording Company, he sought Cole as a salesman. Cole enjoyed great success with the company and was encouraged to reinvest part of his salary in company stocks. This company became International Business Machines, or IBM.
By late 1920, Cole had retired and returned to his beloved Coudersport. Few in the community knew of his wealth until his death in 1961, when the extent of his fortune became known. Cole left instructions that his estate was to fund a much-needed community hospital. Through the generosity of his widow, the former Edith Pinney, the Cole Memorial opened in September 1967. Mrs. Cole later married a Chicago surgeon, G. Howard Irwin, and both maintained philanthropic interest in the hospital until their deaths in the 1990s. Many of the new buildings, including the Irwin Rehabilitation Center and the Irwin Medical Arts Center, have been funded by the charitable trusts they established to help meet the medical needs of the community far into the future.
Margaret Tighe purchased the Dean Sanitarium and opened it under the name of the Coudersport Hospital.
The borough of Coudersport formally accepted ownership of the hospital, making it a public institution.
A fund drive was launched to enlarge the hospital facilities, and it became known as the Potter County Memorial Hospital in honor of the Potter County veterans of World War I and World War II, as well as those whose gifts and labors made the hospital possible.
Direction of the small community hospital changed. In his will, Charles Cole provided funds for a health care facility to meet the needs of Potter County.
After three years of planning and two years of construction, Cole Memorial was dedicated by Governor Raymond Shafer.
Cole Medical Center opened, providing office space for the growing number of physicians.
New hospital tower was opened, providing new medical-surgical floors, an intensive/cardiac care unit and new areas for pharmacy, central supply and general stores.
Satellite offices opened in Emporium, Ulysses and Shinglehouse.
Additional satellite offices opened in Eldred, Smethport and Westfield, providing primary care and specialty services in Potter, McKean, Cameron and Tioga counties.
The Irwin Rehabilitation Center and Community Wellness Center opened on Cole Memorial's main campus.
The Women's & Family Health Center opened.
The Patterson Cancer Care Center opened.
The Irwin Medical Arts Center, providing on-campus office space for many of Cole Memorial's specialists and primary care physicians, as well as Cole Care, opened.
The Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit for Seniors opened to provide short-term residential care for those over the age of 65 needing psychiatric care.
The Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit opened, providing rehabilitation services to those patients who have suffered a serious illness or injury.
The Radiation Oncology Unit began providing care at the Patterson Cancer Care Center.
The Wound Clinic opened.
The Sleep Clinic began providing patient care.
Cole Memorial became a critical access hospital.