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Leslie Collins

Jan. 29, 1926-March 7, 2011

Leslie W. Collins, 85, of Detroit Lakes, died Monday, March 7, 2011 at Oak Crossing in Detroit Lakes.

Funeral Services for Leslie will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, in David Donehower Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes, with visitation held one hour prior to service. Interment will be held in the spring at Senjen Cemetery, rural Detroit Lakes.

Leslie William Collins was born to Harl and Ida (McClaflin) Collins on January 29, 1926 in Valley City, N.D. He was raised in various communities in Cass and Barnes County, N.D., but always called Oriska his hometown.

In 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served aboard the USS Algol, AKA 54. He was the ship's master at arms, ships diver and was an LCM assault boat coxswain during the invasions of Saipan and Okinawa.

On December 11, 1945 Leslie was united in marriage to Mary "Billie" Birdsong in San Fransisco, Calif. Following his honorable discharge from the Navy, Les attended North Dakota State University and later Dickinson State College, to pursue a degree in education and also, his lifelong love of athletics. Les played college football for both NDSU and Dickinson State.

During his college years Les was called to duty with the North Dakota National Guard as a company first sergeant, and was sent to Korea during the Korean Conflict.

Upon returning from Korea Les returned to college and played one more year of football while completing his bachelor's degree. Les and "Billie" went on to teaching, coaching, principal and superintendent positions in Hendrum, Audubon and Pequot Lakes, Minn., Hillsboro and Havana, N.D., Hancock, Minn., and Bowdon and Esmond, N.D. He retired from teaching in 1981 and moved to their summer home on Height of Land Lake.

Les was an avid sports fan and participant. He played softball into his 60's and golfed at every opportunity he had. He loved playing cards and especially enjoyed playing games with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Les will be remembered and missed by his three children, Gail Bato of Joliet, Ill., Lynn (Judy) Collins of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Jody (Dwight) Stewart of Detroit Lakes. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

His wife Mary preceded Les in death.

The family of Les Collins would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Neil Jonason, Jody Bergquist, the staff at the Frazee Care Center and the staff at the Oaks Crossing Transitional Care Unit. We are forever grateful for the professionalism and kindness that you provided for Les.

He will be greatly missed by his family and all who knew him.

David Donehower Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Memories of Les may be shared online at