Lillian Collins was born December 29th, 1953 in Brenham, Texas to Steve and Gertrude Ray. Lillian attended Burns Flat Public Schools and graduated with the class of 1973.
Lillian met the love of her life, Holliebe Collins Jr. (HB) in Clinton, Oklahoma and they united in marriage on November 17th,1973. To this union seven children were born. Wanda Collins, Donna Collins, Steven Collins, Hellen Collins, Stephanie (Collins) Williams, HB Collins III, and Jeffrey Collins.
Lillian loved going on drives with her husband, family girls shopping trips, reading, gardening, and all things involving her beloved granddaughter Brooklyn. She especially enjoyed attending her soccer games and cheering her on! Lillian was a devoted Christian and faithful servant to the Lord. She was an active member of Southeast Church of Christ for over 40 years, where she served as a Sunday school teacher and youth director.
Lillian always had a tremendous passion for teaching. In her words she “was addicted to it”.
As a little girl at home, she would tell her parents she wanted to teach when she grew up.
Her love for instructing and helping children, led her to pursue a degree in education. While raising four children and working as a teacher’s assistant, she attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma where she earned a Bachelors in Education. In 1994 she received her first teaching position with Clinton Public Schools. She spent all 26 years of her career at Southwest Elementary. While at Southwest, Lillian taught 3rd and 4th grades. She very much loved all of the students that came through her classroom and she loved her Southwest family.
In addition to her full time teaching career at Southwest Elementary, Lillian served as the Executive Director of Eastside Academy, Inc. She founded the academy, an after school tutoring and enrichment program, that serves children in grades Pre-K through 12th in the community of Clinton, in 2004. Her vision for Eastside Academy began while she was exercising at home some 20 plus years ago.
She began by tutoring children at the Clinton Public Library and the Southeast Church of Christ. She used old books and whatever other resources she could find to help her students in reading and math. In addition to assisting students with their academic achievement, Lillian was passionate about providing children an outlet to see the world from a different lens. She encouraged and many times facilitated participation in ballet, musicals, football camps, and group field trips in an effort to show her students that they can “be what they want to be if they work hard at it.” From there, the rest is history!
Her motto was, “I will continue to let society predict, but only I can determine what I will, can, or cannot do,” by Marva Collins.
Because of her love of teaching and service to the community, Lillian received numerous recognitions: 2004 Clinton Public Schools Teacher of the Year, 2005 Diana Award (The Distinguished International Academy of Noble Achievement), Pine-Sol Powerful Difference Award featured in The January 2008 Ebony Magazine, 2009 Clinton Woman of the Year, 2009 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth, 2015 ONE Award-Education Division Winner, and The 2015 MORE Magazine Impact Award which led to her being honored in Washington D.C. by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Lillian was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and sister. She is survived by her loving husband of 46 years HB Collins Jr. of the home; sons, Steven Collins of Norman, HB Collins III of Oklahoma City, Jeffrey Collins of Oklahoma City, and daughter, Stephanie (Mike) Williams of Norman; niece, Minnie Hadley of Oklahoma City; grandchildren, Kari and Brooklyn Williams of Norman, OK, and nephew Ryan Jr. of Oklahoma City, sisters, Helen (Tracy) Bennett of Edmond, Lucille (Johnny) Pierce of Oklahoma City; brothers, Lewis Carter of Clinton, Travis (Vernice) Ray of Oklahoma City, Leon (Karen) Ray of Scottsdale, AZ, Steve (Dian) Ray of Weatherford, Harmon (Michelle) Ray of Yukon, and Jimmy (Alison) Ray of Edmond; Aunts, Esterline Mathis and Hattie Taplin as well as a host of devoted nieces, nephews, cousins and other loved ones.
Lillian was preceded in death by her parents, Steve and Gertrude Ray, brother, George Huddlen, two sisters, Frances Daniels and Mami Ray, and three infant daughters, Wanda, Donna, and Hellen Collins.
In an effort to protect the safety and well being of all attendees, the family has requested adherence to the following social distancing expectations:
Family and friends will be asked to wear a face mask (these will be provided if you do not have one) and use hand sanitizer upon entry. We will assist in seating in an effort to encourage social distancing. The Celebration of Life Honoring Lillian Collins will also be live streamed on the Clinton OK Church of Christ YouTube page.
Service will be Saturday, May 16, 2020, 11:00AM, Church of Christ, 2601 Custer Ave.