John B. “Jack” Collins, beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and rare Whitefish native, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends Nov. 26, 2019.
Jack was born on Sept. 28, 1919, grew up in Whitefish and graduated from Whitefish High School in 1937. He attended North Pacific Dental College in Portland before enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942 and marrying his high school sweetheart, Helen Rolette. He and his young family returned to Montana after the conclusion of World War II, locating in Billings, where he apprenticed in a dental lab. In 1953 the family returned to Whitefish, where he started and owned the Collins Dental Lab until his retirement 1989. Jack and Helen had three sons, John, Dick, and Peter, all of whom still live in Whitefish.
Jack had countless friends that he truly loved. He enjoyed simple pleasures and his optimism was contagious, whether riding his bicycle, golfing, enjoying a meal, or meeting the coffee club at the Buffalo every morning. Well into his 90s, Jack enjoyed all that Montana had to offer including hiking in Glacier Park to Siyeh Pass, camping at upper Whitefish Lake, cycling the world over and kayaking, among many other activities. Until his passing, he was the only surviving member of the original Hellroaring Ski Club and was inducted into the Whitefish Lake Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2016. He had a genuine concern for the well-being of everyone he met and inspired so many through his actions, not just his words.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Fred and Ethel Collins, sister Jean, and wife Helen.
He is survived by sons, John (Anne), Dick (Lisa) and Pete (Lori); four grandchildren, Stephanie, Ian (Claudia), Erin (Greg) and Abby (Brandon); and nine great-grandchildren; and his dear brother-in-law, George Wallis.
He was the pillar of the family and took pieces of our hearts with him, but left a legacy of strength, hope, love, and precious memories to hold onto. He will be remembered as a consummate gentleman, missed dearly by all of his family and friends, particularly Heather Mull, his longtime friend and frequent traveling companion.
The family would like to express their deepest thanks to all the physicians and staff at North Valley Hospital, Frontier Hospice and the entire staff at The Springs.
A celebration of Jack’s life will be held in the spring for the many friends and family that loved him.
Austin Funeral and Cremation Services in Whitefish is caring for Jack’s family.