Eletha N McCollum
October 25, 1927 – November 27, 2017
Eletha Nadine Dawson was born in Blackwell, Okla. on Oct. 25, 1927 to William J. Dawson and Dora P. (Oliver) Dawson . Eletha was born the year Lindbergh crossed the ocean. While she was growing up in a small Kansas town, most of the transportation was still horse drawn wagons with only a few cars. Eletha lived a long rich life filled with wonderful experiences, successes and contribution. Eletha was blessed with a special family. She was raised with her siblings in Caney, Kan. by her loving mother Dora. Eletha’s father died when she was three and Eletha’s mother was an incredible lady who, as a single mother, raised her 5 children during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, WW I and WW II. Eletha’s mother was essentially an orphan as her mother died when Dora was very young. Her father and brothers were unable to raise a young girl in Indian Territory, so Dora was raised by various relatives. Family became incredibly important to Grandma Dawson and that spirit lived on in her daughter, Eletha, and now lives on in her children and grandchildren. Grandma Dawson lived for her children and lived to be 99. Eletha lived to 90 and also lived for her children. What a wonderful heritage of family. Eletha was named after her grandmother who died well before she was born. It's very fitting that Eletha's initials are E.N.D. She was the youngest of the five children. She is also the END of that generation. The last of her siblings. She is preceded in death by her sister Juanita (Dawson) Wilson, and three brothers, Ben Dawson, William Dawson and Robert Dawson. Eletha graduated with honors in 1945 from Caney High School in Kansas and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Kansas. She wanted to be a doctor. It was during her time at the University of Kansas that Eletha met the love of her life, Oscar Leroy McCollum, or O.L. or "Mac" following the end of WWII. There’s a wonderful story of how she and Mac met. Her brother and Mac were both interested in the same girl, Betty Smith. To distract Mac from Betty, Eletha’s brother introduced Mac to his sister and Mac was immediately smitten. Eletha was such a pretty girl and many said that she looked like Queen Elizabeth who was near Eletha’s age. Mac was more smitten than Eletha but he was so persistent that Eletha finally gave in to him. Eletha and "Mac" eloped and were married in Hiawatha, Kan. in the spring of 1946, Mac took Eletha to settle in Mac's hometown of Shidler, Okla., where he began his 35 years of service with the Phillips Petroleum Company. In Shidler, Eletha was very engaged in community activities including the Shidler Schools PTA, Women's Federated Club and the Order of Eastern Star where she served a term as Worthy Matron. She was a member of the First Methodist Church in Shidler, taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for several years and was an adult sponsor for the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF). She also served as a substitute teacher at Shidler High School. Eletha was such a good person. As her children say, She didn’t smoke, drink, swear or talk bad about others. Eletha was the perfect mom in so many ways. Her kids describe their home as a “Leave it to Beaver” home. While there’s discussion on who is Wally and who is the Beaver, there is no question that their mom was the perfect mom. She even wore jewelry while she cooked dinner and had a house dress she wore when cleaning. What a great family and growing up experience. They didn’t have a lot of money in those days and lived in a Camp House, a shotgun style home that was very small with all of them living in it. It was a humble life but they made it work. When it came to raising the kids Eletha and Mac were on the same page. They were united. In other words, the kids could not play them off of each other. When the kids got up in the morning they were expected to make their bed before breakfast. Then go out and play until noon when they would come home for a bologna sandwich and then back out to play until dad came home and mom yelled out the back screen door for them to come home for dinner. Eletha was very involved in her children's activities, serving as a Cub Scout den mother and encouraging her children in activities including scouting, 4-H Club, lots of sports, science fairs, music and creative arts. She wanted her kids to have a better life and more experiences than she had growing up so they had piano, dance and singing lessons and were involved in the band. Janet went on to become an accomplished musician and can play almost every instrument and performed often including once singing for the Oklahoma Governor. Eletha also took an interest in the kids' cousins sometimes taking them in and caring for them like her own. Some even considered her a mom to them. Eletha was a good cook. Everything she made was from scratch. She made wonderful chicken noodle soup. Every Sunday there was fried chicken which was outstanding. She would make pancakes in different shapes for the grandkids. Cinnamon rolls. Sourdough bread. It was all great. May Day was always a big day for Eletha when the kids were growing up. She would have them out picking flowers and creating baskets for other families in the camp. They would go up and ring the door bell and move on to the next house. Such great memories. Holidays were always big times and she would decorate for all of them. During Halloween she made great costumes for the kids. In fact, she was a wonderful seamstress and sewed on a treadle sewing machine. She made clothes for herself and for her kids. Many of the kids' clothes growing up was made by her and her skills were so good the clothes looked "store bought" rather than home made. Later on she would also sew for her grandkids. A special memory of time with their mother often includes memories of spending time with her in the kitchen while she cooked and cleaned dishes. Memories of sitting on the dish washer in the kitchen talking to mom. Talking about everything from the trivial to the serious. They would talk about integration and race relations and all current events. About space exploration. And about the neighbors. There was no topic off limits. She taught her children to accept others. They would sit there while she worked and solve all the problems in the world. What special times as she shared her views based on her life experiences with her children. From those early years and throughout life she had open communication with her kids and it was very special. She would help them figure out a problem and look at a situation from all angles. And she always believed everyone could succeed. She made each of her children believe that they could do whatever they wanted. What a blessing to each child. A life changing event in Eletha’s life, and of the entire family, was a head on car accident when Tim was very young. Everyone was in the accident except David. The paramedics thought Eletha had died in the accident and only when they went to remove Tim did they discover she was alive. Eletha and Mac had severe injuries and were in comas for weeks after the accident. Mac’s injuries were so severe that it took him a couple of years to be able to walk again. That accident was a very traumatic event and changed the direction of their lives. But life did continue. Eletha would have headaches the rest of her life and her neck injury impacted her daily from then on. That wasn’t the only traumatic event in Eletha’s life. In 1950 Eletha gave birth to her daughter Marcia Jo, Marcia was born and died on the same day. Eletha never forget Marcia and thought of her to the very end. As her children matured, she worked at various times in Shidler for McCollum's Office Service, OTASCO, Pumping Unit Supply Co. and S&S Music Co. In 1977, "Mac" was transferred by Phillips to Oklahoma City where they purchased their home at 3123 Wilshire Terrace. At the age of 49, when Tim was a senior in HS, Eletha attended nursing training and was licensed as an LPN. She loved being a nurse and was very good. She was very committed to her job and caring for others and would work through her pain. She worked the night shift and was very compassionate and caring with her patients. She was committed to excellence in all things and that included her nursing. She worked several years as a nurse at Deaconess Hospital in OKC until her retirement in 1992. In fact one of the nurses at Bellevue, where Eletha spent her last days, remembered Eletha. The Bellevue nurse was just beginning her career in nursing shortly before Eletha retired. Eletha and Mac had such a good marriage. They were devoted to each other. They enjoyed playing cards and having friends over. Once a week the neighborhood women would get together at one of their homes and she enjoyed those gatherings. They would travel on occasion. Mac’s favorite way to decide where to go on vacation was to back out of the driveway and then decide which direction to go. They had a great marriage and she was so sad when he died in 1989. After Mac died Eletha enjoyed traveling some to places like Pennsylvania, New York, and Hawaii and even took the grandkids on some trips. Eletha was also loved being a grandmother and did so much for her grandchildren. At one point she made all of them wooden paper dolls. Mac cut them out and painted them and she made the clothes for the dolls. It was a great example of how Eletha and Mac worked together. They also made cassette tapes for the grandkids. Since they were always close and they couldn’t be with them they could at least hear their grandparent’s voices. The tapes would have songs on them and they would read books to them. They all have good memories of their Granma and special times with her in the summer or at holidays. She was Granma to 14 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 3 great great grandchildren – with one of those great grandchildren being born the day she died. Eletha's family is blessed with so many memories. Too many to mention now. How she was a huge Thunder fan and loved talking about Stephen Adams. She also loved OSU football. How she and her mother were avid gardeners and grew wonderful vegetables and beautiful flowers. Eletha McCollum, 90, Oklahoma City, passed away on November 27, 2017 after a brief battle with cancer at the Bellevue Health Center under the care of Mercy Hospice. When she found out about the cancer she was still determined to get better. When you think of Eletha it would be very natural for you to think first of these last weeks, months and years since they are so recent. However, Eletha leaves a wonderful legacy for her family that goes back many decades. Eletha was the moral compass of her family. She was not shy in telling others when they missed the mark of excellence. She could bring you back to reality. She would always challenge you to think through a situation. To think how *you* could do something better. She had a fearless objectivity. She taught you that is ok to fail; just learn from it. You will remember how she believed you could do anything if you tried. How she encouraged you to follow your own path. And when she told you she was proud of you, you knew she meant it. You will recall how she was an independent person. You saw it in how she loved to travel after Mac died. And in how she made her own life decisions later in life. She was a hard worker and thought it important to follow the rules. She taught you to take care of yourself. She showed you how to be good organizers, analyzers, forward thinking, how to be leaders and managers. She was proud of each of you and your accomplishments. And you are blessed with a mother of which you are also proud and one that accomplished so much in her life.
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Eletha N McCollum
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