Picture of Kate Collins

Kate (Taylor) Selig-Collins

May 14, 1911 - November 2, 2009

Article submitted
Becki (Selig) Sparre
November 7, 2009

Kate T. Collins, mother of 60's alums, David Selig, and Becki (Selig) Sparre, passed away at age 98.  She graduated from Northwest University at age 66 in 1977 receiving her Bachelor's degree. At the same time, a granddaughter, Lorna Linn Alcorn graduated with an AA degree. All four of Kate's children attended and/or graduated from Northwest College/University: Their spouses all attended and/or graduated from Northwest, as did two of Kate's granddaughters, Carole Selig Harris 1991-1993; and Jill Sparre 1991-1993.

Kate Taylor Selig Collins was born to Thurman C. (TC) Taylor and Betty Virginia Copeland on May 14, 1911, in Newcastle, Texas.  She joined three sisters, Grace, Mae, and Fern. Five years later her sister, Claudine (Clo) was born.  Life was not easy and there were many moves for the family.  Kate told many stories of how they lived in two room houses that were basically shells, a tent, and a few better homes.  A happier time of her childhood was when her father owned a bakery in Melrose, Texas.  When school was out, she and her sister would go to the bakery.  The bread was fresh out of the oven and their father would cut a loaf in half, fill it with butter, give each girl a half, and they would walk the 2 miles home eating that warm bread tucked in their arms getting to the crust as they neared home.  At one place, she had to chop the wood logs of an old Indian corral in order for their mother to keep a fire going all night so they would be warm in the winter.  As teenagers living on a homestead and her dad gone off working elsewhere, she and her sister Fern would walk nine miles to the post office, partly motivated by the hope of mail from their boyfriends. For a time she and Fern worked at a trading post on a Navajo reservation where she enjoyed the work and delighted in learning some of the Navajo language.

Kate and her sister Fern both loved school and would do their best in their schoolwork to achieve good grades and achieve honor role status.  But their irregular past taught them that they might not make it through a whole school year in the same school since more than once their father would announce, “Well, I quit my job. We’re moving tomorrow.”   When Kate was a sophomore in high school, one of six students on the high honor roll and exempt of exams, she was very much looking forward to a picnic to Navajo Church Rock on exam day. Two weeks before the picnic her father came home with his terrible announcement.  She didn’t have time to say good-by to any of her friends or let anyone know which was a great disappointment in her life.  So she was never able to complete high school.  But in her 50’s, after her children were grown, she passed the GED exam, scoring a B average to obtain her high school certificate.  A noteworthy achievement was realized in 1977, at age 66, when she graduated from Northwest College with her granddaughter, Lorna Linn.

On April 26, 1929, she married Andrew Selig whom she had met at a local dance.  He was a coal miner.  After a couple years they welcomed Lorna Carolyn into their home.  Three years later Charlotte Nadine joined their family.  Kate’s marriage was not a happy one, and seemed to worsen with time, though she did all she could to make it happy.  In those difficult times she turned to God and renewed her relationship with Him.  When Charlotte was a little over a year old, she became desperately ill with pneumonia.  One night the doctor told Aunt Grace that short of a miracle, Charlotte would not live through the night.  Kate desperately prayed a sincere prayer and vowed to God that if He would allow her child to live, she would be sure that her children were in Sunday School and church every Sunday.  She kept that vow (and it wasn’t easy) until her children were gone from her home.

Due to the extreme difficulties, unfaithfulness and abuse in her marriage, one day she packed up her two little girls and left for Junction City, Oregon where her parents were living on a farm.  The mining job Andy had in New Mexico ended a while later and he found another one in Roslyn, Washington.  On his way to the new job he stopped in Oregon to see his wife and daughters.  He left for Washington, but Kate and the girls stayed in Oregon.  About nine months later Wayne David Taylor was born in Eugene.  When he was about 18 months old, the family was reunited in Washington making their home in Cle Elum.  In 1945, Pamela Rebecca (Becki) joined the family.

Soon after the abuse became so intollerable that police intervention was required to remove Andrew from the home. Kate was left with 4 children to support.  She worked at cleaning houses and doing what she could to earn money.  Her older daughters helped by finding work and her son mowed lawns.  It was hard times for the family, but her faith in God remained, she depended on Him, and He never failed her.  One day she had nothing in the house to feed her children.  She went into her bedroom, kneeled by her bed, and told the Lord that if she at least had some potatoes she could feed her children.  Before she even finished praying, a farmer whose wife attended the church came asking Kate if she could use some “cull” potatoes Safeway wouldn’t take – they were too big with nubbins on them.  That bag of potatoes kept her family through the winter.

Cleaning houses for cranky women along with little pay was getting to be too much.  One day she cried out to God again.  She made another vow to Him.  “If You will give me a better job, I will tithe not just 10%, but I will tithe 20% of my income to You.”  A short time later, a man in the church who owned a laundry came to her and asked her to be his bookkeeper.  She told him that she had never done bookkeeping before so didn’t think she was qualified for the job.  He in turn told her that he would teach her.  She was faithful to that vow, too, and God blessed her and her family in innumerable ways.

Her house was always open to people.  She entertained preachers, missionaries, friends and even the hobos coming through Cle Elum – her house was marked.  It may be fried potatoes, but she shared with others.

Kate, tired of the cold weather in Cle Elum along with other complications, wanted to move to another place.  A former pastor and his wife strongly urged her to come to their town – Winlock, Washington.  So in 1952, she moved her family there.  Her request in finding a house was that it include a bedroom for her son who had never had a room of his own – his bed had always been the couch.  The house she was able to buy had that bedroom right down to the boy’s wallpaper on the walls.  God had blessed again.

She secured a job in an insurance agent’s office that entailed keeping the city books as the agent was the Town Clerk.  Winlock Hotel was above the insurance office.  Cliff Collins was staying at the hotel and would look out the window as Kate climbed out of her car to go into work – he first admired her legs.  He would then go visit the insurance agent.  He liked what he saw in Kate.  He asked her to go out with him, she was not interested at first, but he kept on asking.  On July 2, 1957 he talked her into marrying him and they went to Stevenson, WA to see a Justice of the Peace.

It caused quite a stir in the family at first, as her children didn’t know him or really how this man had wooed their mother.  He was questioned and informed that he better be good to their mother.  Without hesitation Cliff let her children know that he would be good to Kate…and he was.  Cliff turned out to be another blessing in Mother’s life as she was in his.  When they married, Cliff was not well due to taking shrapnel in a lung during WWII and 2/3 of his left lung was removed.  In January 1964 she laid the real love of her life to rest.  

The rest of her life was full.  She worked, went to college, traveled, including missions trips, ministered in churches (a continuation from before), entertained friends, played guitar in a senior band (was also their chaplain), volunteered at Stevens Hospital for 14 + years, once receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award, and many other activities.  

She leaves us with a rich legacy: a woman who loved and depended on God, a woman who loved her family deeply, a woman of wit and humor (right up to the end), gracious, hospitable, encouraging, determined, strong, faithful in her vows to God, talented, caring, cheerful, resourceful, a teacher, and loved any color as long as it was pink or purple.

We honor Kate as mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother, great, great grandmother, aunt and friend.

[article submitted November 3, 2009 - re-formatted 3/26/12]