Spartanburg woman holds first art show at age 97

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - Nancy Cole’s fascinating life has been filled with adventures and experiences.

“I have lived almost a century, you know,” she said.

A Friday earlier this month, however, was a first for the 97-year-old Spartanburg woman.

Cole was like a queen at court surrounded by loved ones from across the country at The Art Lounge where her first art show was held. The picture framing studio and art gallery was abuzz within minutes of the show’s opening. Two of Cole’s pieces were purchased within 13 minutes.

All the drawings, paintings and sculptures were created in the last seven years. Spartanburg artist Bailie is her first teacher.

“This has been quite an experience. … I feel very grateful and very humble about all of this,” she said.

Cole was 90 when she began to seriously pursue art.

“Why did I have to wait so long?” Cole said.

Bailie had an answer for why it took her so long.

“She had other things to do,” he said.

Born and raised in suburban Boston, Cole wed her late husband, Roy, at 20, in 1936. He had just graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Her husband served in the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army. The young couple first settled in Fort Bliss, Texas.

“That was the very last of the old Army,” Cole said.

Her husband was stationed in the Pacific for three years during World War II. When he returned, she said he assembled the equestrian team for the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. They traveled extensively through Europe and lived in England, France and Sweden.

She’s known historic figures from seemingly different worlds - Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. and artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Bailie said one is “totally fascinated by the stories she tells while we’re in art class.”

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