SPRINGFIELD – Betty Becky M. Dunham Collins, 68, of Springfield died at St. John’s Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010. She was born to Marlen and Eudora Julia Sutton Dunham on February 25, 1942 in Springfield. Her parents, as well as one brother, Robert Dunham preceded her in death. She is survived by two brothers, William Dunham of Springfield and James Dunham of Decatur, and two sisters, Carolyn Louise Smith of Chicago and Shirley Rose Caulk of Irving, along with several nieces and nephews, her adopted daughter Laura Large, and special friend Margaret Rawls.
Becky worked as a dietician at St. James Sanitarium until her retirement.
She married Robert G. Collins of Springfield, in 1995 and he also preceded her in death in 1998.
Becky was the most selfless and compassionate person imaginable. She took care of the sick and the dying in and out of the nursing home, sitting with them, talking, reading, singing hymns, and saying prayers until their death because she never wanted anyone to have to die alone. She knew the desperate loneliness of life in a nursing home because she had spent over five years in one herself.
She had cared for her mentally-challenged brother-in-law, Joseph Collins, who had never had the opportunity to attend school. He was considered hopeless by most who knew him; however, Becky taught him to write his name, dial 911, use the vacuum cleaner, walk the dog, and straighten his room.
She was steadfast in her devotion to her mother, her brother-in-law, and her husband and cared for each of them until his/her death, her mother in 1969, her brother-in-law in 1979, and her husband in 1998, as each died of cancer.
She and her husband were faithful members of Asbury Methodist Church, and since 2006, she was an associate member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, IL, where she loved to attend evening services and then dine out.
Although she had none of her own, she loved children and always told them that they could come and talk to her no matter what hour of the day or night and no matter what their problem was. As a result, her house became a gathering spot each morning for all of the neighborhood children as they awaited the school bus. Becky took them into her house and prepared breakfast for them, especially hot chocolate in the winter.
Becky was instrumental in initiating the Children’s Supper Hour at Asbury Methodist, that serves hot, well-balanced meals to children in the Asbury Church neighborhood from Monday evening through Thursday evening every week, so that each child will have a proper meal at least four times a week.
She and her husband chose a special Christmas present for each child in the congregation every year, and Beck singlehandedly wrapped each one with care.
Bob and Becky also helped to prepare and serve turkey dinners at Kumler Methodist Church every Thanksgiving. These meals were free to all who chose to partake, rich or poor. She and her husband held an open house at Asbury Church every Christmas Day, so that those who were alone on that special day could stop by, have a cup of coffee, say a prayer and visit.
Despite extreme disabilities, such as a heart condition, diabetes, and three amputations, the last one in May of 2010, she was always happy and had an upbeat attitude, a smile on her face, and a bright outlook about life.
She had a habit of calling women, babe and men buddy. She spoke to everyone and had a cheerful, Hi Babe! Or Hi Buddy! How are you? for everyone, and she always said I love you, when she ended a conversation and went on her way.
She was a truly special person and will be missed immensely.
A visitation will be held from 9 am until time of funeral service at 10 a.m. Friday, September 24, 2010 at Staab Funeral Home, with Reverend William Burton officiating. Burial will be at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
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