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Arnold Eugene Collins was born in Greenwich, Ohio in October, 1934. He was one of 13 kids raised in the blended family of Margaret and Clifford Poole. His antics growing up in a big family with his many siblings provided Gene hours of stories to share with his family and friends. At the age of 16, Gene forged his mother's signature in order to join the Army and serve in Korea. He also served three tours in Vietnam and finally retired from the military after 26 years of service. People say that the men who fought in WWII were "The Last Great Generation", and we believe Gene belongs with them.
In 1974, Gene moved to Juneau to serve as an Army adviser to the National Guard, where he met the love of his life, Beatrice (Bea). They eloped and married April 23, 1979. After retiring from the Army, Gene bought a boat and worked as a commercial fisherman. He then worked for a number of years as a building engineer for the Baranof Hotel. Upon "retirement," Gene and Bea moved to New Mexico and started a business. They ultimately moved to Oregon to live closer to their daughter and granddaughters in 2003.
Gene was a 32nd Degree Mason, and a life member of the Mt. Juneau-Gastineau Lodge No. 21. He looked forward every year to participating as one of the "red mini-corvette Shriner drivers" in the Fourth of July parade. Gene was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he served three terms as commander for the Juneau chapter, and was also a member of the National American Legion.
Gene fought hard against an aggressive cancer the last 18 months of his life with humor and the bravery of an Airborne Ranger. Gene passed on peacefully with his family by his side in August. For those who knew him, he will be remembered as a fun-loving, generous, and kind man who loved a practical joke and always had a funny story to tell. Gene lived by the adage "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
His true love and soul mate Bea, daughter Marcy Foster, son-in-law Tab, granddaughters Mikaelah and Madelyn May, sisters Patsy and Peggy, brother Paul-Dean, Aunt Sally, and many nieces and nephews survive him. Everyone will remember him referring to us as his "favorite."
A military honors service will be held at the Willamette National Military Cemetery in Portland, Ore., followed by a celebration of his life and stories on September 17. If you wish to contact the family, the address is: 1919 SE Elliott Ave, Portland, OR, 97214.