Harold “Cliff” Collins went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Saturday morning, May 9, 2020 following an eight-year battle with cancer.
Cliff was born to Harold and Helen Collins in Somers, Montana, on August 27, 1932. His early years were spent in the sawmill town of Somers, some 27 years after his grandfather first moved to the Flathead Valley. His family relocated to Kalispell so that he and his sister could attend Flathead County High School.
After he graduated from high school, he enrolled at Seattle Pacific University, where he used his musical gifts of playing trumpet and singing for the glory of God. He studied at the University of Montana for one year, where his fondest memory was of performing with the Jubileers vocal ensemble. He returned to Seattle Pacific for his final year of college and graduated in 1954 with a degree in business and economics.
Following his college graduation, Cliff enlisted in the United States Army, where he served for two years in Germany, and was also a section leader of the company drum and bugle corps.
Following Cliff’s time overseas, he began working in Seattle. It was there that he met Lynda Walls. They married on August 6, 1966. After working for Shell Oil and in recruiting and fundraising for SPU, Cliff used his varied background to inform his next calling as a public school teacher. He was a music and middle school teacher in Seattle before returning home to the Flathead Valley to work as a 5th grade teacher at Peterson School in Kalispell, until his retirement in 1994.
A recipient of the "My Favorite Teacher Award" for the state of Montana, Cliff had a passion for teaching. He made every student feel important and knew how to make learning fun. Former students often recalled the accomplishment of learning to say all 50 states and capitals in one minute or less. He always welcomed each child at the door every morning with a handshake. Then he would do the same as each child left for the day. He also taught US presidential succession by having every student serve as US president (and the classroom) for the day.
Not only did he teach civic engagement, he modeled it by serving for two terms on the Kalispell City Council. In addition, he was instrumental in helping the Historical Society secure the old Central School Museum. As president of the Historical Society, he and Lynda volunteered their energies into raising funds, organizing exhibits, planning activities, and even facility maintenance. In recognition of his extensive service, the Northwest Montana History Museum named him a lifelong Senior Advisory Director. A lifelong musician, he sang in church choirs, played trumpet in the Flathead County Community Band, and served on the board of the Glacier Symphony. Cliff and Lynda enjoyed working together on political campaigns, and Cliff served several terms on the state executive board for the Republican Party.
He loved his grandson, Eddie Mitchell (9) and his great niece, Emma Anderson (12). A devout Christian, he was an active member of Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish. Sunday fellowship and Tuesday Bible studies were the highlights of each week.
Cliff is survived by his wife, Lynda, of Kalispell; daughter, Shelley Collins, son-in-law, Don Allan “Chip” Mitchell, and his grandson, Edward David Collins Mitchell, of Cleveland, Mississippi; his sister, Clara Ellen Anderson; nieces Jeri Anderson and Sue Ellyn Anderson, and great niece Emma Luise Anderson, all of Kalispell; nephew, Kurt Walls, of Ravensdale, WA; sister-in-law, Lorraine Schukar, of Des Moines, WA; and numerous cousins and friends.
Cliff’s family wishes to thank friends and family who have sent cards, email, flowers, and other gifts; the healthcare professionals who cared for him; the staff at the Lutheran Communities; Hospice; all those who have been an encouragement in so many ways during the last eight years; and Johnson-Gloschat Funeral Home. Due to present health restrictions, a celebration of Cliff’s life will be held at a later time.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish, the Northwest Montana History Museum, or the Glacier Symphony & Chorale.
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