George Collinge (88) longtime St. Maries, ID resident passed away at Benewah Community Hospital October 20, 2020. George was born to Hildred and Ellen (Keller) Collinge August 11, 1932 near Parkston, SD. The family lived in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana before settling in Addy, WA where he graduated in 1951 from Jenkins High School in Chewelah, WA.
Following graduation, George went to Oakesdale, WA to work for a local farmer. He began his telephone career with Rosalia Telephone Company. In 1953, George was drafted into the United States Army. He served two years in Japan and was honorably discharged in 1955. Then, he returned to work as a lineman for General Telephone Company in Moscow, ID. The telephone crew was reconstructing all the telephone lines from Moscow to Deary and updating the ten-party crank phones to dial phones. While the crew worked in Deary, he met Delores Ruby. The couple was married September 14, 1957 at the Zion Lutheran Church in Deary. For two years, the couple lived in Moscow.
In 1959, General Telephone Company had been on strike for seven weeks. When the strike ended George went to work on Monday. On Wednesday of that week, he was told that he would be transferred and to report to work in St. Maries in five days. On Friday of that week, their first child was born. Never having been to St. Maries, having a newborn baby, and not having a place to live brought challenges.
Upon arriving in St. Maries, there were no houses available. There is a long story behind it, but they found a small home on 13th street which continues to be the current family home. The couple raised four children in the home. It was also a home to nine exchange students who were from all over the world over a period of several years.
George worked for the telephone company until his retirement after 42 years of service in 1993. Because he knew all of the phone numbers in St. Maries from memory, George was known as the “Walking Telephone Book”.
George played an active role in the St. Maries Community. He served two terms on the St. Maries City Council. He was a volunteer fireman for 40 years and became volunteer EMT 1974. George was active in the Community Presbyterian Church and served several times as an Elder and ran the sound booth. He belonged to the SM Jaycees who organized and operated Paul Bunyan Days.
A fun fact concerning Paul Bunyan Days that most people don’t know, a cord was run from the park to the Collinge family electrical box to supply all of the electricity to run Paul Bunyan Days festivities. George worked on many civic projects to improve our community. Two big projects he was involved in were moving the Steam Donkey and John Mullan Statue to their current location in Mullan Trail Park. For many years, he made it a priority to make sure the cross on SM hill had working lights.
George and the family enjoyed many activities together. The family took a vacation every year. On these vacations, they camped in a tent trailer and travelled most of the United States. The family also enjoyed square dancing for several years. They had the privilege to dance at the 1974 World’s Fair in Spokane. After the children were grown, he and Delores continued to travel. They travelled several times to Europe sightseeing and visiting exchange students. Their favorite place to visit was Norway.
He will be remembered for how much he loved his family and his connection with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He will be remembered for his unselfish devotion to his community, his work, and people of St. Maries. He will be remembered by his family for his “elephant memory” he never forgot a special date, the price of gas on vacation, the year and details of an event happened.
George is survived by his wife of 63 years, Delores, at the family home in St. Maries; children Tami (Don) Holdahl of St. Maries, Shannon Collinge of St. Maries, Connie (Eric) Hoyle of Colton, WA, and Gary (Melinda) Collinge of Polson, MT; siblings Aloha Schneider of Chewelah, WA and Clifford Collinge of Addy, WA; 10 grandchildren; 16 great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Duane Collinge.
A Memorial Service with military honors will be at St. Maries Nazarene Church on November 7, 2020 at 2:00 pm. A gathering of family and friends will follow the service. Please visit George’s online memorial at hodgefuneralhome.com.