Eletha N. McCollum
Eletha N. McCollum
  • October 25, 1927 - November 27, 2017
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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Eletha Nadine Dawson was born in Blackwell, Okla. on Oct. 25, 1927 to William J. Dawson and Dora P. (Oliver) Dawson . Eletha was born the year Lindbergh crossed the ocean. While she was growing up in a small Kansas town, most of the transportation was still horse drawn wagons with only a few cars. Eletha lived a long rich life filled with wonderful experiences, successes and contribution.
Eletha was blessed with a special family. She was raised with her siblings in Caney, Kan. by her loving mother Dora. Eletha's father died when she was three and Eletha's mother was an incredible lady who, as a single mother, raised her 5 children during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, WW I and WW II. Eletha's mother was essentially an orphan as her mother died when Dora was very young. Her father and brothers were unable to raise a young girl in Indian Territory, so Dora was raised by various relatives. Family became incredibly important to Grandma Dawson and that spirit lived on in her daughter, Eletha, and now lives on in her children and grandchildren. Grandma Dawson lived for her children and lived to be 99. Eletha lived to 90 and also lived for her children. What a wonderful heritage of family.
Eletha was named after her grandmother who died well before she was born. It's very fitting that Eletha's initials are E.N.D. She was the youngest of the five children. She is also the END of that generation. The last of her siblings. She is preceded in death by her sister Juanita (Dawson) Wilson, and three brothers, Ben Dawson, William Dawson and Robert Dawson.
Eletha graduated with honors in 1945 from Caney High School in Kansas and was awarded a scholarship to the University of Kansas. She wanted to be a doctor.
It was during her time at the University of Kansas that Eletha met the love of her life, Oscar Leroy McCollum, or O.L. or "Mac" following the end of WWII. There's a wonderful story of how she and Mac met. Her brother and Mac were both interested in the same girl, Betty Smith. To distract Mac from Betty, Eletha's brother introduced Mac to his sister and Mac was immediately smitten. Eletha was such a pretty girl and many said that she looked like Queen Elizabeth who was near Eletha's age. Mac was more smitten than Eletha but he was so persistent that Eletha finally gave in to him. Eletha and "Mac" eloped and were married in Hiawatha, Kan. in the spring of 1946,
Mac took Eletha to settle in Mac's hometown of Shidler, Okla., where he began his 35 years of service with the Phillips Petroleum Company. In Shidler, Eletha was very engaged in community activities including the Shidler Schools PTA, Women's Federated Club and the Order of Eastern Star where she served a term as Worthy Matron. She was a member of the First Methodist Church in Shidler, taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for several years and was an adult sponsor for the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF). She also served as a substitute teacher at Shidler High School.
Eletha was such a good person. As her children say, She didn't smoke, drink, swear or talk bad about others.
Eletha was the perfect mom in so many ways. Her kids describe their home as a "Leave it to Beaver" home. While there's discussion on who is Wally and who is the Beaver, there is no question that their mom was the perfect mom. She even wore jewelry while she cooked dinner and had a house dress she wore when cleaning. What a great family and growing up experience. They didn't have a lot of money in those days and lived in a Camp House, a shotgun style home that was very small with all of them living in it. It was a humble life but they made it work.
When it came to raising the kids Eletha and Mac were on the same page. They were united. In other words, the kids could not play them off of each other. When the kids got up in the morning they were expected to make their bed before breakfast. Then go out and play until noon when they would come home for a bologna sandwich and then back out to play until dad came home and mom yelled out the back screen door for them to come home for dinner.
Eletha was very involved in her children's activities, serving as a Cub Scout den mother and encouraging her children in activities including scouting, 4-H Club, lots of sports, science fairs, music and creative arts. She wanted her kids to have a better life and more experiences than she had growing up so they had piano, dance and singing lessons and were involved in the band. Janet went on to become an accomplished musician and can play almost every instrument and performed often including once singing for the Oklahoma Governor.
Eletha also took an interest in the kids' cousins sometimes taking them in and caring for them like her own. Some even considered her a mom to them.
Eletha was a good cook. Everything she made was from scratch. She made wonderful chicken noodle soup. Every Sunday there was fried chicken which was outstanding. She would make pancakes in different shapes for the grandkids. Cinnamon rolls. Sourdough bread. It was all great.
May Day was always a big day for Eletha when the kids were growing up. She would have them out picking flowers and creating baskets for other families in the camp. They would go up and ring the door bell and move on to the next house. Such great memories.
Holidays were always big times and she would decorate for all of them. During Halloween she made great costumes for the kids.
In fact, she was a wonderful seamstress and sewed on a treadle sewing machine. She made clothes for herself and for her kids. Many