Love at first glance

Posted February 14, 2019 at 6:00 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

“Wither I goest, I will go; and

“Where thou lodgest, I will lodge.”

That’s the sign hanging amongst their family photos in their dining room in the farm house they’ve shared for most of their married life.

Phyllis Rollins, of Merrill, was attending the wedding dance of Robert and Bonnie (Tooker) DeRocher above the drug store in Merrill the Summer of 1951 when she caught the eye of a young Ireton farmer named Colin Coll-mann.

“I saw her dance by with somebody. I thought she’s kind of cute — I’ll see if she’ll dance with me,” the 20-year-old Le Mars Community High School Class of 1948 graduate told The Akron Hometowner. “She did say yes.”

“I thought he was really nice, pretty handsome,” said Phyllis. “He visited with me and told me about himself.”

At the end of the evening, the 17-year-old Liberty Consolidated School Class of 1951 graduate agreed to let him take her home.

“He was really nice with a calm voice — calm and quiet,” said Phyllis about her first impressions.

“She wasn’t pretty — she was beautiful,” said Colin. “She was very pretty.”

It was the first of many dates — to movies and dancing at wedding dances and at Shore Acres in Riverside where the Sioux City Community Theatre is now.

“I knew right away he was the one,” said Phyllis.

“It took me a couple of dates,” laughed Colin, “but I don’t think we went together long before I was pressuring her to marry me.”

They were sitting in his parents’ car visiting, just about to go to a movie when he proposed.

“I told her we shouldn’t waste any more time,” laughed Colin who still holds his wife’s hand. “Some of these snap decisions — not sure if they’ll work. I’m still kind of worried since we’re heading toward 68 years…”

Just 10 days after her 18th birthday, Phyllis and Colin were married in the Plymouth Presbyterian Church’s manse, eight miles west of Le Mars on Iowa Highway 3. They were married by the Rev. John Rushing. Her parents fixed supper for the family gathered.

“At that time, girls were getting married at that age but I tell people now I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone,” said Phyllis. “We grew up together. He’d also had a birthday and was 21 by our wedding.”

Phyllis contracted polio shortly after they married but after only four days in the hospital, she was well enough to return home. Another hurdle for the young couple was Colin being drafted into the U.S. Army — he left his bride from Sept. 7, 1952 and returned honorably discharged Sept. 17, 1954.

In 1963, they bought the farm where they still live.

They have four children: Cynthia and her husband Tim Wurr of Ottumwa; Kimberly and her husband Don Bonnett of Fulton, Mo.; Ron and his wife, Pam Collmann of Plattsmouth, Neb.; and Melonie and her husband, Jeffrey Luban of Chicago, Ill. They have 15 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

Phyllis was a stay-at-home farm wife until their youngest was 12 years old.

Farming wasn’t very lucrative for the Collmanns who’ve weathered much together, including the 1980s Farm Crisis.

When it hit, Plyllis took a sewing job at a rural business, and Colin began working as a government meat inspector. Later, Phyllis washed dishes at Eddie’s Cafe in Chatsworth and in 1984, she began working at the Akron Care Center as a nurse’s aide. Then at the age of 57, she went to college and became a Licensed Practical Nurse, continuing to work at the Care Center. At age 68, she retired and began her next career — writing books.

Although she’s still writing books, Colin’s retired — content to enjoy being with her without worrying about farming. He just celebrated his 88th birthday and she recently turned 85.

“We’ve got to keep going,” Colin said.

“We’re just happy for another day,” said Phyllis.

Come Valentine’s Day, they’ll both be looking for a love note hand-written by the other on paper plates — a tradition Colin started early in their marriage when he didn’t have money for extras.

Phyllis can hardly wait as she has a treasured stack of paper plates with Valentine’s Day, birthday and anniversary notes from Colin.

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