Bridge City Resident nears the century mark
Watson Harrison Collins was born in Segno, Polk County, Texas on May 12, 1908, and he is ready to mark a century of living.
He grew up on a farm and continued to farm until as a young adult he went to work for Kirby Lumber Company as a reforester. As a reforester he marked trees for cutting and replanted trees. He worked for Kirby until he retired at age 70.
In 1938 he married his wife, Ida Mae, and they remained married until her death at age 95 this past January. In March they would have been married 70 years.
The Collins moved from Segno to Rye, Texas, and operated a small grocery store.
“It was a store with gas pumps and when I was a girl, I could pump gas as well as anyone could,” said daughter Ellen Nickum of Bridge City.
Collins and Ida Mae had five children, Ellen Nickum, Betty Starkey, and Harold Collins all of Bridge City; Carolyn Jowell of Clear Lake, and Kenneth Kennedy of Dallas.
Collins has been a deacon in the Baptist Church for more than 50 years and is a member of Circle Drive Baptist Church of Bridge City.
Faith has been a strong part of Collins’ life. His father was a Baptist circuit preacher and traveled many miles to the churches to which he ministered. The churches were all small country churches not able to offer their preacher much income.
The family farm provided many of the needs of the family. This was especially true in the years of the Great Depression. They ate what they grew and some things became the staple of the supper table.
“Daddy does not like eggs and tomatoes. He said that is because he ate so many of them growing up,” Nickum said “Daddy worked hard all of his life and Mother was right there beside him. They were a good team.”
Collins moved to Bridge City 14 years ago and loves to spend time outdoors. He liked to grow vegetables and flowers.
Collins and Ida Mae worked hard to keep their minds active. They were active people and had faith in God. “Daddy credits his life and his reasonably good health to God and gives God all the glory,” Nickum said.
Collins drove until he was 91 years old and had a good driving record. He has begun to lose his eyesight to macular degeneration and is now nearly blind.
“He has had to give up all of his outside activities in addition to driving, but he has never complained. He never complained about anything in his whole life and he continues to give God the glory for his life,” Nickum said.
Nickum and her husband, Bill, are caring for Collins. They spend most nights as his companion and have a daytime caregiver with him. Starkey steps in and gives them a night off each week.
The Collins raised their children with a lot of love and as a way of showing love in return the children are planning a party for his 100th birthday. The party will be May 17, at the Nickums’ home. Most of the family will attend.
As part of the celebration Nickum and siblings are putting together a book with stories about growing up with their parents.
“Daddy was a great teaser, especially in the kitchen with Mother. They were a team and were always together. He was a great, funny person to be around, we want to keep a lot of those memories alive,” Nickum said.