Tommie Charlene Collins of Arkadelphia, Ark., died June 20, 2017.
Charlene, as she was called by friends and family, was born Oct. 10, 1929, in Zion, Ark. She was the oldest daughter of Tom and Lena Fudge Shell. She grew up in and graduated high school in Salem, Ark. She obtained her college degree in education from the University of Central Arkansas.
She married Doyle E. Collins on Sept. 9, 1950. During her life she split time between Illinois and Arkansas spending more than 40 years as a teacher in public schools in Royal and Muncie, Ill., and private schools in Little Rock, Ark. She taught at all elementary levels, but her real love was first grade. She often said she drew her greatest satisfaction in teaching children how to read.
Charlene was a talented seamstress, artist and huge basketball fan, but out of the classroom she is likely best remembered by friends and family as an extraordinary country cook, a skill she learned from her mother. Over the years she traveled to all 50 states to soak in history. A wonderful listener, a good storyteller and eager host, she enjoyed reading books and talking politics.
She was a Baptist and is still fondly remembered at Muncie Baptist Church in Muncie, Ill., where she was an active member for almost three decades. She was a member of First Baptist Church Arkadelphia when she died.
In later years, Charlene was hit with Alzheimer's. Though the disease would steal most of her memories and take away her recognition of family and friends, it was never able to touch her spirit. She remained sweet and loving until the end. Thus, the elements of her personality she held onto were a true reflection of the way she had been in every facet of her life.
Charlene leaves behind a son, Andrew "Ace" Collins, and a daughter-in-law, Dr. Kathy Collins; two grandsons, Clint Collins of Houston, Texas, and Rance Collins of Los Angeles, Calif.; a great-granddaughter, Aidan Collins-Brown of Chesapeake, Va.; two sisters, Jo Ella Maguffee of Arcadia, Mo., and Joy Wood of Mountain Grove, Mo.; as well as many nephews and nieces and thousands of former students spread out across the world who carry on her legacy. She was preceded in death by her parents and husband.
Her life will be celebrated at 10 a.m. June 23, at the Ruggles-Wilcox Funeral Home, 517 Clay St., Arkadelphia, Ark., with a private burial in Salem, Ark. Memorials should be to Shelby Seabaugh Fund, Ouachita Baptist University, Box 3754, Arkadelphia, Ark., 71988-0001. Please designate the gift as honoring Charlene Collins. Sign the online guest book at www.ruggleswilcox.com
Published on June 21, 2017