On Dec. 4, 2023 the matriarch of our family, Vera French McCollum, moved on from her earthly life into eternity. At 98 years young, she left behind nearly a century full of laughter, adventure, and love.
Vera’s legacy encompassed a life of giving. She truly didn’t know the word “no” when it came to answering a call to give. Whether it was to her family, friends, community or church her response was always “yes” or “I’ll do what I can” to meet the need. Vera was full of fire and passion and didn’t hesitate to respond with the same.
Born in Boston, Mass., her parents Karl and Lili French traveled the country with Vera and her two brothers, Victor and Richard, establishing homes in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Washington DC and California.
In July of 1943, she met her forever love, William “Mac” McCollum. Mac proposed to Vera in December of the same year and they married on June 17, 1945. After living in California, Missouri, and Kansas they finally settled into their permanent home in Creswell, Ore. where she remained for over 66 years.
After 55 years together, Mac sadly succumbed to a lengthy illness in November of 2000. Vera, the epitome of an independent woman, lived in the home she loved until at 97 she moved from Creswell to live in Surprise, Ariz. to be near her daughters.
Vera was at her best when entertaining. Opening her home to friends and family was her real gift as she created exquisite meals and lasting memories with those she loved. However, it simply was not a party unless card or board games were included in the affair.
Her talents spanned from artist, to chef, to writer, to seamstress. Her love of travel was evident, be it overseas or road-tripping with her family or friends, especially if it involved good food along the way.
Vera worked as an accountant for various organizations, such as the Girl Scouts in Eugene, Oregon, Holt Adoption Agency in Creswell, and the law firm Rutter, O’Sullivan, Green and Hobbs in Los Angeles. She was brilliant with numbers and a valued employee having an uncanny knack for maintaining friendships that lasted decades.
To have this remarkable woman as our North Star was a blessing and she will be sorely missed; however, our gratitude far outweighs the feeling of loss.
Vera is survived by her daughters, whom she loved beyond reason, Janis Staniak (Steve) and Cathryn Richards; her grandchildren Melissa Bailey, Jennifer Coombs, Jeremy Coombs (Christina), Molly Richards and Joshua Coombs (Jane); along with her six great-grandchildren Jessica and Emma Bailey, Aidan, Sawyer, Emma-Rose and Joshua Coombs, Jr. Vera dearly loved and is survived by her niece Kathleen Mertens, nephew David Bauder, niece Kathy Long and family, niece Lana LaLiberte and nephews Mike and Ron French.
A memorial service and celebration of life for Vera will be held in the spring of 2024 at Creswell Presbyterian Church. Date and time yet to be confirmed.