Marian Collins (neé Kureth) passed away in the early morning hours, January 2, 2016, at the age of 101. She began a varied and interesting life November 17, 1914 in Detroit, Mich.
She spent most of her childhood in Florida where her father had settled the family to further her mother’s fragile health. She often swam the lakes near Orlando with friends, and became an athletic, sun-tanned young woman. The family finally resettled to Perrysburg, Ohio, closer to Toledo and to extended family, where Marian finished high school in 1933 and began her career as a professional singer. Although her repertoire came to feature mainly popular works, she had operatic training which extended her range and power, and led to a stint with the Toledo Light Opera.
Partly because of her marvelous singing voice, she was selected as Miss Toledo in 1937, and subsequently as Miss Ohio in the same year at the Cleveland Centennial. As a result of that exposure and her athletic ability, she was able to perform in Billy Rose’s Aquacade with Johnny Weismuller, the best known Tarzan’ in film, and an Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer. She met and married George R. Collins in 1938, and gave birth to her first child, a son, in 1939.
An attentive mother, she was nonetheless able to continue her singing career throughout Ohio, and at various events sang with Harry James, was onstage with Danny Thomas, and other notables, and as a vocal coach, taught voice to Theresa Brewer. Her husband had earlier joined the Marine Corps, and with George on active duty in Hawaii, she briefly relocated her little family to Hollywood, and for a time studied film makeup with Perce Westmore.
After her husband’s discharge, the family moved back to Toledo, and Marian continued her singing career, including headlining a local radio program for some time. While George worked as a builder, Marian continued to sing at a variety of private affairs, and briefly ran a talent studio in Monroe, Michigan.
The family returned to the West coast in 1951, often changing residences with George’s construction work, including a four-year period living and working in Las Vegas, Nev. where the children graduated high school. Effectively retired from professional life, Marian continued volunteer work in Yucca Valley, California, to include organizing fashion shows, and occasionally producing entertainment for the troops stationed at 29 Palms Marine Corps Training Station.
George, passed away in 1983. Thereafter, Marian led a quiet life, living primarily with her son, Gary, now of Jacksonville, Oregon. Her daughter Sharon, mother of four, died in 1991 at 51 years of age, Sharon's husband, Gordon Gibson, in 2003. Since August of 2008, Marian resided at an assisted living facility in Medford, Ore.
Marian is survived by her son; her grandchildren, Rainey Cox of Vancouver, Wash., Gary Gibson of Nixa, Mo., Robert Gibson of Rogue River, Ore., Devin Collins of Carrollton, Texas; her cousin, John Chudzinski (Jill) of Toledo, Ohio, and eight great-grandchildren. She was also preceded in death by granddaughter, Diane (Gibson) Roland.