Judy Collins, 81, of Petaluma, Calif.

Judy Collins, 81, of Petaluma, Calif., since 1980, died on March 21, 2019, of cardiac arrest.

She was born in St. Paul, on Aug. 9, 1937, to Daniel and Genevieve Ehlenz.  She graduated as salutatorian of her high school class at Mahtomedi.  She earned a degree in chemistry at the College of St. Benedict in Minnesota.  Upon graduation, she was the first woman hired to work in the research laboratories at Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M).

In 1962, she married Stephen Collins.  That same year she travelled with her husband to Japan, where he was working for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools.  Their three sons were born at Camp Zama U.S. Army hospital in Japan.  In 1967 they were assigned to Pusan, Korea, and in 1968 to Seoul, Korea. While in Seoul, she was president of the Catholic Women’s Club. During that time she provided the leadership to build a four-room school for Korean orphans. In 1970 her husband was assigned to the U.S. Army Base in Nuremberg, Germany, and they lived in Germany for five years.

In 1975, the family moved to Terra Linda in Marin County, California, where her husband was principal of San Rafael High School. She was, as in other locations, involved with the children’s schools and with the Catholic parishes. In 1980, the family moved to Petaluma, where they bought a country home and became active in St. Vincent’s parish.  Raising apples and other products, she sold them at the Marin Farmers Market, which inspired her to start the farmers market in Petaluma.  She managed this market and the Santa Rosa Farmers Market for several years, and remained involved as a board member after she retired.

In 2009, and until her death, she provided the leadership for St. Vincent’s parish to partner with several other congregations in providing food each week for needy families at the West Side Ecumenical Pantry, which distributes food from Elim Lutheran Church.

In 2010, she was recognized as Petaluma Citizen of the Year.  Her many efforts at feeding the needy was a highlight of her award.

She had been an active member of Petaluma’s St. Vincent’s parish since moving to the area in 1980. 

She is survived by her husband, Stephen; sons, Matthew (Kristin), of Novato, Calif., John (Natalie)  and Andrew of Petaluma; grandchildren, Claire Elizabeth Collins and John Michael Collins of Petaluma; and siblings D’Ann Becker and Danny Ehlenz of White Bear, Minn., and Nikki Kohn of Stevensville, Mich.

She will be buried in the St. Ignatius parish cemetery in Spring Valley, near her many relatives.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Petaluma Educational Foundation, 200 Douglas St., Petaluma, CA 94952, to support the Scholarship for English Language Learners.