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Leilani Ada CollinsDecember 8, 1947 ~ April 23, 2017 (age 69)
Leilani Ada Mary (Allen) Collins, one of the warmest and most vibrant souls to grace this world, passed away at the age of 69 at her home in Hyattsville, Maryland on April 23, 2017 surrounded by family and friends. Lani was born on December 8, 1947 at Grey Nuns Hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan to her loving and involved parents Dolores (Holmes) and Alfred Allen. She attended Holy Rosary & St. James elementary schools, and Sacred Heart Academy high school.
While studying at the University of Regina, Lani joined Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO). She moved to Accra, Ghana in 1969 and taught business education, including typing and shorthand. While there, she met a dashing American Foreign Service Officer, David Collins, at the local movie theater where he was on a date with her friend. In addition to his charming demeanor, he also had consistently working electricity and running hot water, so she naturally gravitated toward him. After a lengthy engagement they were married on September 29, 1972 in Regina, SK at Holy Rosary Cathedral, and honeymooned on a pig farm near Kenaston.
They began their marriage in Hyattsville, MD where they bought their home; David agreed to the purchase on her recommendation, sight unseen. In 1974, David was stationed in Manila, Philippines, and they were able to travel extensively throughout Asia during that assignment. In 1979, Paul was born, and Mark followed in 1981. Leilani’s children were her joy, and her love and support of them was unending.
With David’s job, the family moved back and forth between the States and his various overseas posts. These included a second posting in Ghana, during which there was a coup d’état. The next posting was to Beijing, China, culminating in their hasty and dramatic evacuation in 1989 during the uprising and subsequent government crackdown at Tiananmen Square. From 1993 through 1997 they were stationed in the decidedly safer post of Vienna, Austria.Leilani loved these opportunities to travel and to immerse herself in the local cuisine. In all their travels, Lani and David would make new friends, in whose lives they remained involved for many years to come.
Upon returning to Hyattsville, Lani was called to work at the Catholic University of America, first in the School of Nursing and later in Campus Ministries. Working in an environment that exemplified her faith and brought her together with such wonderful and talented individuals brought her great joy. She was enamored with the students, bursting with energy and potential, and loved her coworkers, with whom she built strong and lasting bonds.Lani lived her faith through acts of service to others, with generosity and love. No one was beneath her or undeserving of her affection. She volunteered extensively at her home parish St. Jerome’s. She also made anonymous donations to aid students at Catholic University, so that these students would be able to continue their studies. Her deep faith sustained her and guided her life.
Living far from her Canadian relatives, Lani’s friends in Hyattsville became her support and “family”. The “Hyattsville Moms” collectively raised their children through thick and thin. Leilani’s zest for life led her friends on many adventures, including pit stops at Dunkin Donuts at midnight and late-night runs to the movies.
Leilani and David travelled extensively during their retirement, and among their favorite destinations were Ocean City, North Beach, and Ireland. Their retirement, while brief, gave them even more opportunities to deepen and strengthen their love for one another. Lani loved to mention how much David appreciated her spontaneity without necessarily having to stay out past his bedtime. He was steadfast in his love for Lani and truly doted on her.
Leilani loved to play cards, and a late-night card game with the ladies could only be made better by Diet Coke and Twizzlers. Leilani’s enthusiasm for life, her generosity, and get-up-and-go attitude were unrivaled. She was a tour-de-force of inclusiveness wherever she lived or visited. The word Catholic means universal; Lani embodied this principle and found the silver lining in all situations.
Lani was extremely devoted to her extended family and traveled to Canada frequently to visit, often with Paul and Mark in tow. By exposing them to these characters, her kids were taught to stay up late, to play cards to win, to eat candy, sleep in, and have a good time, and the biggest lesson of all: the importance of family. This love of familywas extended to her in-laws, and they embraced her in return.
In 2001, Leilani was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the disease that would eventually take her life. Over the next 16 years, her cancer reappeared nine times. In each instance, she dealt with this disease with courage, dignity, and grace. The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Georgetown University Hospital, particularly Dr. Barnes, who gave us so many more years with Lani. Many thanks also to our Hyattsville family, especially Denise and Bob Green, for their love, support, meals, and prayers.
Leilani was predeceased by her parents Wodgie and Alf Allen. She is survived by David, her husband of 44 years, children Paul (Rachel) and Mark (Margo), brother Bill(Teresa), sister Timlen (Peter), and nieces, nephews, cousins, and a cast of friends too numerous to mention but all of whom felt like close family to Lani.
Funeral services will be held at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, located at 5205 43rd Ave, Hyattsville, MD 20781at 10:30 AM on Thursday, April 27th.This will be followed by the internment at the Maryland Veterans Cemetery Crownsville located at 1122 Sunrise Beach Rd, Crownsville, MD 21032 at 1PM. A traditional Irish wake will be held in the Gold Room of St. Jerome’s (location above) from 7 – 10 PM, also on Thursday.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to Sisters of Charity, 144 Depaul Road, Greensburg, PA 15601. http://www.scsh.org/
Sisters of Charity
144 Depaul Road, Greensburg PA 15601