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Lee Roy McCollum passed away on April 21, 2022, of natural causes with his wife by his side at the age of 90. Lee was born June 26, 1931, to Roy and Helen McCollum in St. Ignatius, Montana. The oldest boy of his seven siblings, he was always a hard worker.
In 1949, at the age of 18, he enlisted in the Army and would represent his country in Okinawa. During his time in the service, he sent money home to help provide for his family. Little did he know that his father was using part of that money to purchase property for him in the Mission Mountains above St. Ignatius that would become fondly known as “The Forty”.
While stationed in Washington, he would meet and fall in love with a beautiful Italian gal on roller-skates at the XXX Drive-in named Jeanie Delaurenti. They moved to St. Ignatius and would spend the next 70 years inseparably building a life together and watching their family grow. Lee and Jeanie were married on Christmas Eve of 1952. They had three children. First, Dale, a boy to carry on the McCollum name. Next, a loving daughter named Terry. Finally, they had Lee’s curly-haired baby girl, Laurie.
Lee spent his years working for irrigation and riding ditch. He loved the Mission Mountains and being outdoors, which made the purchase of “The Forty” even more perfect. He, Jeanie, and the family were on “The Forty” whenever Lee wasn’t working or home. He loved cutting firewood and always had an endless wood pile.
While he loved his children, Lee was meant to be a Papa. As soon as his first grandson was born, you would rarely hear him called by any other name, by anyone in the community. Papa had eight grandkids, whom he adored. He spent almost every summer day playing, swimming, and teaching them life lessons. He loved taking them to “The Forty,” teaching them about the outdoors, and learning to shoot with his old .22. Papa and Granny also traveled around the state attending every sporting event whether it be football, basketball, volleyball, softball, wrestling or Taekwondo. They rarely missed an event, and every teammate knew they could expect Papa and Granny to be there.
In 1990, they built their dream home next to their baby girl where they had the perfect view of the Garden Wall. Every morning Papa could be seen outside doing yard work, riding his lawnmower, or working in his elaborate garden, which provided fresh fruits and vegetables for every family picnic and barbeque. After his morning chores you could find Papa relaxing in his lawn chair, under the willow tree whittling, and eventually taking a nap. He loved his much-needed naps to keep up with the wild stories he had to tell to the grandkids that were crawling all over him. Papa’s evenings were spent next to his love. He’d move his lawn chair next to hers on the back porch and they’d relax and stare at the gorgeous landscape.
Papa’s greatest joy was his family. He loved our family gatherings, especially Christmas Eve. He’d secretly work with Laurie and surprise Granny with a new beautiful piece of jewelry. He lit up as she opened her gift and would help her put it on, followed with a kiss. Papa would sit at the head of the table (which soon had to be moved to the garage due to the size of the family) and smile at what he had created. While his bride was always zooming around the house cooking, she would eventually join him with a smile.
Papa is survived by the love of his life, Jeanie, his three children, Dale (Merry Lou), Terry (Alan) and Laurie (Joe). He had eight grandkids, Doug (Cathy), Dawn (Mark), Adam (Kirsten), Lindy (Travis), Angela (Robbie), Nicolas (Elana), Whitney (Nate) and Christopher (Royelle). He had fourteen great grandchildren Taylor (Will), James (Audrey), Kelby, Hudson, Kaiah, Jaxson, Carter, Lucas, Brooks, Keilah, Sophia, Kyella, Kayden and Granger. And finally, he had two great, great grandchildren Kristine and Weslynn. Papa joins his granddaughter Lacey and great granddaughter Isabelle in heaven.
For 70 glorious years, Lee shared this dance with the love of his life, Jeanie.
It was Papa’s wish to not have a memorial service. The family would like to thank everyone who has been a part of their lives and helped over the years.
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