Elbert "Collie" "Doc" Collins
July 20, 1929 – April 15, 2021
Elbert “Collie” “Doc” Collins was born on July 20, 1929, in Portland, Oregon. He was the only child of Harry and Ruby Collins. Collie graduated from Vancouver High School in 1947; and enlisted in the United States Navy in June of that year. Collie’s training in the Navy was as a Hospital Corpsman, Submarine Service. In 1950, the Korean War broke out, and Collie deployed with the 1st Prov. Marine Brigade, 1st Marine Div. Korea Fox Co., with whom he served as a First Aid Line Corpsman. During his service in Korea, Collie was wounded twice in combat, even having his second Purple Heart pinned by Chesty Puller. He was one of the few survivors of the conflict at the Chosin Reservoir. His citations include Purple Heart Medal with one gold star, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with one star, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Fleet Marine Force Ribbon, National Defense Medal with one star, Korean Service Medal with four stars, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, and United Nations Korean Service Medal. His badges include: Submariner Dolphin Badge and Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Specialist Device. Collie was especially proud of his submarine service; he served on five submarines between 1952 and 1964: USS Hancock, USS Diachenko, USS Catfish, USS Thomas Jefferson, and USS Proteus. After an extensive, 20-year career in the military, Collie retired from service, but continued to remain actively involved in veteran organizations. Some of his many activities included membership in organizations such as the Chosin Few; Korean War Veterans Association, Oregon Trail Chapter; First Marine Division Association, Oregon/ Columbia River Chapter; Marine Corps Coordinating Council of Oregon and Washington; Portland-Blueback Council of the Navy League, and he was a life and Holland Club member of the USSVI Blueback Base.
On August 30, 1952, Collie married the love of his life, Gerrie Cornelison. The two met through a blind date that was set up by his father. Collie was so smitten by Gerrie, that he proposed on their second date, later taking it back, but once again proposing on their fourth date. Collie and Gerrie had three children, Colleen, Scott, and Dawn. Sadly, Scott was lost in a tragic accident while he was on patrol with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Following Scott’s passing, Collie became very involved with Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), which is an organization that supports families of fallen law enforcement officers with every facet of loss. As a part of this community involvement, Collie would often volunteer to speak to High Schools for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Family was everything to Collie. Growing up as an only child instilled in him the value of time spent with family. He made sure they always had plenty of activities together, even if they simply involved helping each other with yard work or cutting wood for the fireplace.
Collie was an active person his entire life. When he was younger, he loved horses, and even spent a short time as a horse jockey. He enjoyed flying, and got his pilot's license at a young age. Other activities he appreciated include snow skiing, water skiing, camping, fishing, rafting, boating, and crabbing. He was a man that loved to try anything, so he was always open to new things.
Following his retirement from the Navy, Collie used his medical knowledge to sell medical equipment and supplies to hospitals, doctors and care facilities. He was wildly successful in this venture due to his personable nature; he was recognized as the top salesperson year after year because he created such genuine and enduring relationships with his clients.
Collie passed away on April 15, 2021, in Portland, Oregon. He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 69 years, Gerrie; daughters, Colleen Collins-Dumford and Dawn Waddington; grandsons, Nick Tavarez, Scott Waddington, and Mike Waddington; and one great-grandson, Hayden Tavarez.
Collie was a man of unabashed honesty, dignity, and honor. He walked the walk of a true patriot, and his energy filled a room. He made others feel welcomed and accepted; and his laugh will continue to resonate in the hearts of those privileged to have known him.
“He will be missed,” is an understatement.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Elbert "Collie" "Doc" Collins
Theresa (Collins) Letkeman
May 9, 2021
Our condolences To Colleen and Dawn and families.
Sonny was the kind of man that you never forgot once you met him.
He attended many of our celebrations and did indeed fill the room with light and laughter. You will always be remembered Sonny. Rest in Peace.
1st Marine Division Association
April 28, 2021
Fare winds and following seas, brother.
April 25, 2021
With deepest sympathy to Gerri (mom), Colleen, Dawn. I have always considered Collie as my second Dad, and have lots of fond memories. He will always have a special place in my heart. Love all of you like family.
Rest In Peace Collie.