James “Jim” H. Collier, a World War II veteran and beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on June 14, 2020 in the presence of his wife of 23 years, Peggy Housh Freeland Collier who took meticulous care of him in his final years. He died peacefully at their home in Cedar Creek, Texas. He was 95 years young.
Jim was born on August 9, 1924 in Lake Merritt, Texas to Milton Cummins Collier and Bessie Mae McWhorter Collier. He grew up in Goldthwaite, Tx. Tall and slender with fire-colored hair, his friends/family nicknamed him “Red”. He had his share of mischievous tales from his school days. From stealing watermelons to putting cars on rooftops to shooting exploding fireworks at archrivals bicycle seat posts, he explored the boundaries.
He entered the army during WWII and at 19, he survived a mission to disrupt German activities in the deserts of North Africa with a small team of soldiers miraculously crossing the continent from Dakar to Alexandria while losing only one of their fellow soldiers while sabatoging German resources along the way. He spoke of having the German general Rommel in his sights at one point but was ordered not to fire by his commanding officer for reasons not understood at the time. The team then joined up with forces fighting in Italy before he was transferred to Alaska to assist in defending Attu and then training forces for a planned invasion of Japan if needed.
He returned from the war and held a variety of jobs including working at the Rice Hotel in Houston making pies and working for the railroad before marrying his first wife Norma Young Collier and starting to work for Shell Chemical in Deer Park, Tx. After raising three children and putting in over 30 years handling rail shipments of various chemicals, they moved to Red Rock, Texas among the lost pines of the Sand Hills area. They enjoyed being out of the city and living next door to some of their grandchildren until Norma died in 1995.
Jim remarried to longtime family church aquaintance Peggy Housh Freeland and they spent the next 23-plus years traveling the country, spoiling their dog, Patches, along with a number of cats, and spending time with church friends and family. They hosted their families for Thanksgiving every year.
Jim, who always had a twinkle in his eye, was a rare combination of rough and gentle. He loved kids and little dogs. In restaurants, he would zero in on babies at nearby tables, catch their attention and play peek-a-boo. He would strike up long conversations with anyone who was willing to chat. He loved his family and people in general.
Jim is survived by his wife Peggy, his three children: Randall A. Collier (Linda)of Houston, Michael H. Collier of Red Rock, & Catherine A. Korndorffer of Seabrook; step-children: Tonia Roberts of Cedar Creek & Sonia Freeland of Cedar Creek; grandchildren Samuel Collier (Jacqueline), Joshua Collier (Madison), Kiah Collier (David), James Collier (Tabitha), Will Korndorffer (Sophie) and Brad Korndorffer (Summer); step-grandchildren Trevor Roberts (Tiffany), Thomi Beadnell (Ward), Justin Earls, Nateshia McDonald (Sean), Casey Freeland (Kristin), and Derek Freeland; and more than a dozen great grandchildren.
He was preceeded in death by his first wife Norma Young Collier, his brother Allen "Buddy" Collier, his sister Louise Collier, his mother Bessie Mae McWhorter Collier, his father Milton C. Collier, step-son Tommy Freeland, step-son-in-law Ernie Roberts.
A memorial service for Jim will be held once things settle down and gatherings can be safely held. Details for an in-person celebration of Jim’s life will be provided when they become available.