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Leta Rhea Collins

April 3, 1936 January 15, 2019
Leta Rhea Collins
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Obituary for Leta Rhea Collins

On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Leta Collins of Salem, Oregon passed away at the age of 82. Leta was born in Dimmitt, Texas to Dorothy (Dot) and Willis (W.A.) Jones. She moved to Salem, Oregon as a child, where she subsequently spent most of her adult life. Nevertheless, she always held fast to her Texan roots and tactfully used her accent to emphasize a point. Leta was known for her dry humor, relaxed demeanor, and honesty. She was 'tickled' by ordinary pleasures and enjoyed the simple life she built.

Leta grew up with fond memories of her father's store, a clothing mercantile, which was a family effort. Besides running the store, the Jones family traveled to places such as Colorado, New Mexico, Boston, and San Francisco; and loved Oregon coast trips with her parents and sons.

In 1955, Leta entered a short-lived marriage with Tom Olson, the highlight of which were her sons, Tom and Gary. Leta remarried Victor Collins in 1962 with whom she had a third son, Richard. Leta loved the outdoors, camping and boating with her boys and husband. The family has wonderful memories of summer days at Detroit Lake and trips to the Little North Fork River. Tragically, Victor passed away in 1974.

As the boys left home, Leta's life changed and she found herself in Redding, California where her oldest son Tom was living. There she worked at a golf course and enjoyed the sunshine that reminded her of Texas.

Radiation treatment brought her back to Salem when she was in her early 60s. Having survived throat cancer, Leta then spent the next decade surviving the antics of her grandchildren. She had a front row seat to many basketball pickup games and living room wrestling matches. She was well known among her granddaughter's friends as "the cool grandma".

Leta truly appreciated spending time with her family, who were her closest friends. She remained supportive as she allowed them to find their own paths in life. As she aged, she remained an avid reader and enjoyed football and westerns. A faithful feeder of the neighborhood squirrels in her later years, Leta named her furry friends after the nuts they ate, Peanuts. Charlie Brown was known to let himself into the apartment, visiting her to bury his peanuts in her potted plants. Leta also valued her relationship with God, practicing her Christian faith from her living room easy chair.

Leta is preceded by in death by her parents, husband Victor, and brother Burt. She is survived by her sons Tom, Gary, and Richard, grandchildren Cora, Tommy, and Cameron, brother Lamar, and sister-in-law Pat, who was a great sister and best friend. In staying true to Leta's nature, there will be a simple graveside service for family to honor her memory and celebrate her life.

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Cemetery Details


Belcrest Memorial Park Final Resting Place

1295 Browning Ave. South
Salem, OR 97302

1295 Browning Ave. South Salem 97302 OR
United States

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