George E. Collins, 81, passed away on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, peacefully in his home, after a courageous battle with cancer.
George was born on Nov. 29, 1927, in Placentia, Newfoundland, to Mary Bridget and Francis Collins. He was the second youngest of 10 children, all who have preceded him in death. George was only 4, when he managed to get a job on the United States Naval Base in Placentia the 1940s. He worked on the floating dock under Chief Petty Officer Orville Sather of Havre, Mont., who encouraged George to come to the United States in l948. George traveled five days and five nights by Greyhound bus to Havre. He applied for citizenship and was immediately drafted and sent to Japan with the occupation forces. When he returned, he was in the Army Reserves. While waiting to leave for Korea, he was transferred to the Air National Guard. After the Korean War, he started his career working for the Great Northern Railroad as an apprentice in the old roundhouse in Havre. He retired 35 years later from the Burlington Northern Railroad. He was proud to have achieved the job of general foreman of the Great Northern shops in Havre, where he supervised 250 staff members. He felt it was quite an achievement for an immigrant from the British colony of Newfoundland. George met Elinor Cass at a dance at Northern Montana College, where she was going to school. When he returned from his tour of duty during the Korean War in l953, he and Elinor were married. They had four children, Mike, Patti, Debbie and Lori. George was committed to the community and the church. He was always busy working at projects, fixing items and was dedicated to helping others. George had a wonderful sense of humor and loved the people with whom he shared his life. He was known for the “gleam” in his eye and his “spark” for life. His nickname on the railroad was “Scooter.” Along with always having a positive attitude, he was a friend to all and enjoyed each day. George is survived by his wife, Elinor; son, Michael (Kari Klehm) of Kalispell; daughters, Patti (Keith) Woo, of Ames, Iowa, Debbie (Scott) Stuart, of Polson, and Lori (Robert) Malcolm, of Littleton, Colo.; grandchildren, Sarah (Sam) Allred of Polson, Ben (Shalyea Walhood) Stuart of Polson; Patrick and Douglas Malcolm, and two great-grandchildren, Aislinn and Carter; sister-in-law, Ardell Hern and her family and brotherin- law Elmore Cass and his family and many wonderful friends and family. A visitation will be held on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Grogan Funeral Home from 9 a,m. To 5 p.m., followed by a vigil at 7 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2, 2009, at 10 a.m at Immaculate Conception Church. Memorials may be given to Cheerful Heart, P.O. Box 688, Polson, MT 59860. Messages of condolence may be sent to the family online at www.groganfuneralhome.com Grogan Funeral Home, Polson is assisting the family.