The Life and Legacy of Bennie Mae Collins
Mrs. Bennie Mae (Lewis) Collins was born in Benton, Louisiana to Bennie and Annie Lewis on June 16, 1925. She was the seventh of twelve children. Bennie accepted Christ at an early age and was an active member of Longview Baptist Church in Benton, Louisiana.
In July of 1945 she united in marriage with Y.D. Collins. The couple moved to Seattle, Washington in 1946 and seven children were born to that union. In the winter of 1949, the family relocated to Alaska and returned to Seattle in early 1951. They purchased their first home in Seattle’s Central District in 1955. In 1963, the family moved to the house on 25th Ave. Bennie also known as “Grammy” was a mother and grandmother to the many generations of children that grew up on 25th Ave.
Bennie became a member of King Street Church of Christ in the early 1960’s. Bennie later moved and began worshiping at Madison Park Church of Christ. Food was her ministry and she proudly served on the bereavement and hospitality committees. Bennie rejoiced and sang along with service over Zoom throughout her illness. She was the oldest member of the church and was a present and proud member until the end.
Bennie began her career with the City of Seattle in 1978. Bennie worked Bumbershoot, Folk Life Festival, hockey games, and many other events held at the Seattle Center. She also spent time working at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. While working, Bennie formed lifelong friendships with her co-workers that she cherished. They enjoyed having lunch together, overnight getaways and travelled on a cruise to the Caribbean.
Bennie loved sports, especially the Seattle Supersonics and Seattle Storm and was a fixture at the Key Arena. If you looked closely when the games were televised, you could see the players hugging and kissing Bennie as they came out of the locker room for good luck. Some of the players called her “Mom.” Bennie was featured in a Seattle Times article in September 2006, titled “Guards the guards, and forwards too.” At that time, Bennie was the only person to guard the home team locker room.
Bennie had a magnetic smile and her eyes sparkled when she laughed. She had a sense of humor that could not be matched. Bennie always had a saying or a quote. Some days when asked how she was doing she’d say “Good” and other days she should say with a big smile wearing her signature headband, “I ain’t much!”
Bennie loved her family. Bennie was a true matriarch and spent over 50 years raising her children and grandchildren. She modeled dignity and grace with quiet and steady determination. Bennie was a dedicated wife and cared for her husband throughout his illness. She was a loving sister and shared a special closeness with her siblings. Bennie was a blessing to everyone she met. She was an angel on earth and is now an angel in heaven.
She was preceded in death by her husband Y.D. Collins, grandson Terry Collins; siblings; James Lewis, Edward “EB” Lewis, Emit Lewis, Irma Coleman, Neva Mervin, Thelma Smith, Jettie Turner, Connie Mitchell, and Johnnie Brunson.
She leaves behind sisters: Bernice Collins, Ernestine Turner; children, Gwendolyn Collins, Jerome (Victoria) Collins, Regina Bigby, Jeannine Washington, Julius (Flordeliza) Collins, Priscilla (Joseph) Simmons, Cortez Collins. Twelve grandchildren, San Jerra Collins, Felicia Collins, Nicole (Marc) Murray, Ali (Angel) Collins, Keisha (Michael) Bigby, Brian Collins, Eris (Lajarious) Washington, Ashley (Markiss) Cooper, Joseph Simmons, Phillip Collins, Alicia Collins, Alexis Collins; Twelve great-grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins; extended family; and many dear friends.
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