Fern (nee Sallee) Collins, 88, of Du Quoin, Illinois, passed away on Jan. 9, 2021 at her home following a long battle with Alzheimer's.
Fern was the wife of Clem Collins. She was the loving mother of Mark Collins (deceased), Beth Collins of Du Quoin, and Brian (Elisabeth) Collins of Tamaroa, Illinois. She absolutely loved her granddaughters, Kelsey Kay (Ross) Cronin of Dallas, Texas and Grace and Sallee Collins of Tamaroa.
Fern was born Sept. 9, 1932 in the community of Bays, Kentucky on Hunting Creek in Breathitt County, Kentucky to loving Christian parents, the late Claude and Ellis (Turner) Sallee.
The family later moved to Rousseau, Kentucky, where she met the love of her life, her husband of over 68 years, Clem Collins. Fern attended Breathitt County High School and graduated in 1950. She attended Lees Junior College for two years.
Fern became a schoolteacher in Evanston, Kentucky for two years, while Clem was working at the mines in Evanston. They eloped and were married on Oct. 4, 1952. She dearly loved her students and stayed in contact with many of them until her death. They moved to Dayton, OH, where she taught for one year.
Clem was transferred to Fidelity Mine #11 in 1956 and they moved to Du Quoin. There she became a proud homemaker and mother. She served as a reading aide at R.A. Wheatley School in Du Quoin for a few years. She was a faithful servant to the Lord, having been active at the First Baptist Church in Du Quoin. She taught Sunday school for over 65 years of her life. She read her Bible every day until her illness prevented her from doing so.
Fern's passion was caring for her family. She prided herself on the responsibilities that came with being a wife, mother and Grammy. She loved to cook and clean for her family. Her baking and cooking skills were well known to family and friends. She cooked countless meals for people in time of need. Hobbies she enjoyed were reading and spending time with her grandkids. She was a huge Kentucky Wildcat fan and watched every game she could.
Fern was preceded in death by her parents, Claude Sallee Sr. and Ellis (Turner) Sallee; her son, Mark Collins; brother Claude Sallee Jr.; in-laws William (Chick) Collins and Willa Collins; sister-in-law Lucille Sallee; brother-in-law Arnold (Byrd) Marshall and all of her brothers and sisters-in-law on the Collins side of the family.
She is survived by her husband, Clem; and her daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters. Also surviving are her sisters, Bet Marshall and Donna (Dale) Collins; brothers, Samuel Jesse (Evelyn) Sallee and Bobby (Betty) Sallee; and countless nieces and nephews.
A special thank you to her compassionate caregivers, Barb Davis, Dawne Malinski, Angie Luke, Terri Arnold, Melissa Grissom, Debbie Harsy, Tina Jones and C.C. Billings.
Family services will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 at the Breathitt Funeral Home, 409 KY-15, Jackson, Kentucky, with Rev. Charles Smith officiating.
Visitation will be from noon until the time of service on Saturday at the Breathitt Funeral Home.
Graveside service and burial will follow at the Sallee-Minnix Cemetery, Rousseau, KY.
Everyone in attendance is required to wear a mask and asked to use social distancing guidelines.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the following: Sallee Minnix Cemetery Association, 434 Lynnway Drive, Winchester, KY 40391; Hospice of Southern Illinois, 305 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62220; or First Baptist Church, 104 N. Washington St., Du Quoin, IL 62832.
Searby Funeral Home in Du Quoin is in charge of arrangements.
For additional information or to sign the memorial guest register, visit www.searbyfuneralhomes.com. n Du Quoin for a few years.