Lifelong love of travel for 101-year-old
By NOVA BEALL, Times Staff Writer
Published September 5, 2007
Mildred Helen "Millie" Collins of Largo celebrated her 101st birthday with family and more than 40 guests on Aug. 5, 2007, at the community center of Embassy Mobile Home Park, where she has lived for more than four decades.
Born Malvina Elena Balboni on Aug. 5, 1906, in Revere, Mass., she was the daughter of Italian immigrants and the youngest of their six children.
An elementary school teacher decided to call Malvina "Millie," because it was easier to pronounce and the name stuck.
In the late 1920s, Mrs. Collins married a Swede named Fred Johnson. Throughout the next quarter century, they survived the Great Depression and World War II and had two children.
As a working mother, Mrs. Collins held positions as bookkeeper and office manager.
Mrs. Collins has had a lifelong love of travel and visited every state in the union, as well as Canada, Mexico and a host of tropical and European locales.
Fred Johnson died after 25 years of marriage and Mrs. Collins later married Ed Collins. It was during their marriage that they became winter residents at Embassy Park. They were together 20 years before Mr. Collins passed away.
She has been with Robert Underhill, the man she calls the love of her life, for the last 20 years.
After retiring, Mrs. Collins joined a bowling team, swam at the YMCA, embroidered and knitted, and for a time was president of Embassy Park's community association.
A bit less vigorous today, Mrs. Collins has an affinity for gambling and plays bingo virtually six nights a week. She's also a formidable opponent to bet against in gin rummy.
The 101-year-old looks terrific for her age. Her secret? Mrs. Collins says the daily medicinal use of good Scotch whiskey and an occasional glass of wine for circulation, plus 30 years of weekly beauty shop appointments and raw egg whites on her face to combat wrinkles, has worked wonders.
She has a son, Fred Johnson of Lexington, Mass., and a daughter, Judy Galvin of Clearwater, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Fred Collins relates that when his mother moved to Florida, she gave his sister, Judy, a beloved plant that had accompanied Mrs. Collins through several moves, and instructed her daughter to care for it.
With trademark verve, Mrs. Collins told her, "When this bush dies, so will I."
Fred Collins is happy to report the bush is still thriving and so is his mother.
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John and Joanne Cohlios of Clearwater recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at Carrabba's Restaurant in Clearwater.
They were married July 4, 1952, at the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church in Aliquippa, Pa.
Mrs. Cohlios is a homemaker and Mr. Cohlios worked in quality control as a structural inspector for Dravo Corp. on Neville Island in Pittsburgh.
The couple came here in 1998 from Ambridge, Pa., and have a daughter, Lorraine Lassiter, and two granddaughters, Joanna Lassiter and Alexa Lassiter.
Mr. Cohlios was a member of AHEPA in Ambridge, and both are members of Agia Markella Chios Society, Tarpon Springs.
They are members of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Clearwater.
The Cohlios like music, dancing and enjoying life in Florida with family outings.
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Jerry and Betsy Andrews of Largo were married April 7, 1957, in Greenville, Miss. They met when Mr. Andrews, a native of Norman, Okla., was stationed at Greenville Air Force Base, and Mrs. Andrews worked across the street as a secretary in the flight surgeon's office.
To celebrate their 50 years together, the couple toured Great Britain and Ireland in June and in July came together with family on Sanibel Island.
They came to Pinellas County in 1964 from Gainesville. Mr. Andrews taught school in Virginia and Texas before attending the University of Florida. He worked 34 years in vocational education and retired from Pinellas Technical Education Center in St. Petersburg as assistant director.
Mrs. Andrews worked 21 years as secretary and bookkeeper at Belcher Elementary School before retiring.
The couple are active members of Oakhurst United Methodist Church in Seminole.
They have three children and nine grandchildren.
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The Moran clan gathered at Bern's Steak House in Tampa on June 30 to honor the 50th wedding anniversary of Dr. Leo and Jane Moran of Clearwater. The following day, July 1, the Morans opened their home to accept congratulations from friends, neighbors and extended family members.
The couple married June 29, 1957, in Malden, Mo., and moved to Clearwater in 1972 from Minneapolis.
Dr. Moran is a family doctor at Mease Dunedin Hospital and worked at the University of Florida as a staff doctor.
He volunteers at the Clearwater Free Clinic and Mrs. Moran has volunteered at Head Start and other local charities.
They are members of Light of Christ Catholic Church, Clearwater.
The Morans have four children and three grandchildren.
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James and Marjorie Kann of Largo were married June 4, 1942 in Perryville, Mo., and recently celebrated their 65th anniversary quietly at home.
The Kanns moved here in 1957 from Vienna, Ill. Mr. Kann was an Army Air Forces veteran of World War II and later held the positions of vice president and general manager of DPI Quality Paints in Clearwater.
Mrs. Kann was a teacher at Clearwater High School.
They are longtime members of First Methodist Church of Clearwater, Clearwater Evening Lions Club and Zonta International.
The Kanns have two daughters, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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Ogden and Mary Lou Helt of Tarpon Springs celebrated their 50th anniversary on June 14 with a buffet dinner at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club with family and friends. Following the dinner party, the entire family enjoyed a weekend of celebration at Lake Tarpon.
The couple met in 1956 after Mr. Helt's return from Germany, after two years of Army service. Mrs. Helt worked as a secretary to the commercial supervisor of Peninsula Telephone Co.
They married June 14, 1957, at the Evangelical United Brethren Church in St. Petersburg. The Helts then moved to Gainesville, where Mr. Helt completed college and received a degree in hotel and club management. They both worked for Mr. Helt's family businesses, the Garden Cafeteria and Martha Washington Hotel, both in downtown St. Petersburg, until their retirement in 1985.
In 1992, the Helts moved to a home on Lake Tarpon in Tarpon Springs, where Mr. Helt enjoys sailing and canoeing.
They are members of North Bay Community Church in Clearwater.
The couple has a son and a daughter and two grandsons.
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Erik Anders Palm, 18, has been awarded an $8,000 four-year academic scholarship by Florida Atlantic University's Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.
He is the son of Stephen Palm of Palm Harbor and Andrea and Timothy Spinale of Clearwater.
Palm is a 2007 graduate of Countryside High School, Clearwater, and will begin his Honors College studies in the fall.
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