Obituary of Gene Collins (1932 – 2021) – Portales, NM

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The funeral for Gene Collins, 89, of Portales, will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at Emmanuel Baptist Church with Reverend Josh Faucett officiating assisted by Wade Fraze. Interment will follow at Portales Cemetery with Denver Collins, Sammy Hightower, Zach Shank, Joel Owen, Braden Fraze and Garret Hancock serving as porters. All his many, many friends will be bearers of honor.
Gene, as he preferred to be called, was one of ten children. He was born on September 5, 1932 in Vaughn, New Mexico at the home of Katie Jane (Yocum) and Earl Wilburn Collins and died on the evening of October 30, 2021 in Portales.
Gene’s parents had moved to Vaughn in 1929. In 1936, the family moved from Vaughn to a farm in the Floyd community. At Floyd, they lived in a large one-room box-type house with dirt floors. The family burned cow shavings and mesquite wood in their wood stove for cooking and heating. The joke circulating at that time was that the windmill was pumping water and cows chopping wood. They had neither electricity nor running water in the house.
In 1942 the family moved to the Fort Sumner Valley. In 1947 they moved to T or C, NM. Gene was captain of the “Hot Springs” football team where he played in the attacking center. Back then, helmets were not as sophisticated as they are today and did not have a face shield. So, during the football season, he always had a scab running the entire length of his nose. His final year, he was also the homecoming king. In the photos of this event, Gene has a big black eye that he got into with his best friend.
On May 2, 1953, Gene married his high school girlfriend, Lorene Mathies, in T or C. They had been married for 68 years at the time of his death. Gene served four years in the US Air Force during the Korean War. When he was released in August 1956, they and their two oldest sons moved from Austin, Texas to Portales. In 1965, the family became a member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Gene went to work for his brother Fred, building houses and hauling lumber. In 1962, Gene obtained his general contractor’s license. He built about 20 homes in the Portales and Roosevelt County area. In 1965, Gene built their current home 3? miles east of Portales.
In 1968, Gene entered commercial construction. Over the following years, Gene played a major role in countless projects in the Portales area, including the construction of the Guy Luscombe gymnasium in Dora, the municipal swimming pool in Portales, the major renovation of the ENMU Science building, the conversion of the old ENMU theater in the computer center and the building of the new Portales high school.
After his retirement, Gene also volunteered on several projects for Portales and Roosevelt County. He built the concrete supports for the F-111 aircraft on display in town, the pedestal for the statue of Governor WE Lindsey at the courthouse and was the building inspector for the construction of the new Roosevelt General Hospital. He has also been a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Gene has received several awards for his work in the community. In 1996 and again in 1999, he was named Volunteer of the Month. He was named workhorse of the year with sculptor Barry Lambirth for their work on the statue of Governor Lindsey. In 2012, he and his son, Steve, were chosen to represent New Mexico at the 150th anniversary of the National Homestead Act in Beatrice, NE. There were 87,312 classified properties in New Mexico for a total of 25% of the state’s land. In addition to his awards, in 1977 he was granted a patent for his invention of a Direct Reading Survey Rod.
He is survived by his wife, Delia Lorene Collins; and six children, Stephen E. (Janet) Collins of Portales, David N. (Becky) Collins of Amarillo, TX, Glenda L. Collins of Sparta, TN, Janice E. (Ronnie) Tiner of Portales, Larry N. ( Shirley) Collins of Albuquerque, and Donald S. (Laurie) Collins of Portales; one brother, Pete C. Collins of Clarkston, WA; and one sister, Jerry L. Ramsey of Artesia, NM. He is also survived by 23 grandchildren, in addition to numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
His parents died before him; his brothers, Lewis, Jesse, Frederick and Odell Collins; sisters, Lois A. Watson, Johnnie L. Cooper and Helen Rogers; in addition to a grandson Brandon Clay Hightower.

Services under the direction of Wheeler Mortuary of Portales, Inc., 500 E. Third St., Portales, NM 88130, wheelermortuary.net

Published by Eastern New Mexico News from November 1 to November 3, 2021.


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