Ramon “Ray” Collins lost his 42-year battle with ALS on March 28th, 2021. He died peacefully at home in his sleep. Born in Poplar Grove, Illinois on March 17th, 1931, Ray was a child of the Great Depression. When he was very young, his family travelled west to eastern Washington where his father found work with the WPA. They moved to Port Orchard WA with the outbreak of WWII as jobs opened up at the Bremerton Naval shipyard. Ray excelled in music and sports and had a passion for drawing from an early age. He volunteered in the Korean War, first as a trombone player in the Army band and later flying in a helicopter over enemy lines (sitting on stove lids for armor) to map Chinese troop positions. After Korea, Ray returned to work at the Seattle Post Intelligencer where he had started as a copy boy upon leaving school. This led to a 30-year career with the newspaper, initially working in the art department, becoming Art Director of Magazines in 1964 and a political cartoonist in 1970. He studied art with Bill Cummings and Guy Anderson to perfect his craft and was very influenced by the cartoon greats Herblock and Herriman. His cartoon strip “Cecil and Dipstick” appeared on the Op-Ed page from 1975 to 1979 and offered social and political commentary on the affairs of the day. Ray was above all an artist and his acute sense of the absurd and unique perspective made his beautifully drawn cartoons an important voice in Seattle during the turbulent times of the 1970s. During this period Ray also travelled around Seattle schools, teaching children the basics of cartooning with his character "Mr Donut."
Ray first started to show symptoms of ALS in the late 1970s but continued to draw and worked in television for The QUBE Network, an experimental TV station, in Columbus Ohio in the early 80s. Ray retired to Chapala, Mexico in 1985 where he and Nicky lived for almost 4 years but the lack of curb cuts and the urge to draw brought them to Boulder City NV, a small town in the Mohave desert, southeast of Las Vegas, in 1989. Ray’s cartoon sheet “The Bolder Bugle” (“bent but not broken”) helped to defeat a proposed 1,900 acre landfill and caused quite an upset in local elections. Soon his characters Boulder Dan and Dipstik Duck were making an appearance in the local Boulder City and Henderson papers. He won four first place Nevada Press awards in the early 90s. When his ability to draw was lost to ALS, Ray turned his hand to writing short stories. He taught a Flash Fiction writing class on the Internet and won a "Binnacle" writing award from the University of Maine in 2005.
Ray bore his slow paralysis with strength and humor that was an inspiration to all who knew him. He was wise and witty and always encouraged talent in those around him. He never lost his sparkle and his wicked smile drew people in, even when he could no longer communicate. He was a unique spirit and his memory will be treasured beyond measure by his many friends and family.
Ray was preceded by parents Ida Belle (Ward) and Everett Collins, and brother Maurice Collins. He is survived by his wife, Nicola Collins of Boulder City, his children, Ryan Collins and wife Stephanie Hazle of Port Orford OR, Kevin Collins of Seattle WA, Kerry (Collins) Hendrickson and husband Thomas of Seattle WA, brother Russell Collins of Santa Barbara CA, sister Joyce Hall of Port Orchard WA, first wife Juanita (Williams) Neitling and husband David of The Dalles OR, and the wonderful Williams sisters and Meenan clan who always made him a beloved part of the family. Donations suggested to Cartoonists Northwest Association’s scholarship fund.
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