Surrounded by family and friends, Sherla Faye Stewart-Collins passed away peacefully on May 14, 2019, in the Bend home of her daughter and son-in-law, Steven and Patricia Collins Gabbe.
Sherla was born in Haviland, Kansas, Jan. 29, 1922, to Dennie and Blanche (Mulford) Stewart, the seventh of nine children. In 1933, the Stewarts with their six younger children loaded all their possessions into a grain truck and headed west, a journey straight out of "The Grapes of Wrath." Sherla was 11 years old at the time and attended schools first in Yakima, Washington, and then in Canby.
Upon graduating with honors from Canby High School in 1940 with a scholarship to Oregon State, she fully intended to continue with her education. Instead, when John Fopiano Collins proposed to her on graduation night, she accepted and they were married on Dec. 7, 1940.
Their two daughters, Mary Patricia "Pat" and Barbara Anne "Bobby," were born while they lived in Canby. During World War II, they moved to the Fopiano Ranch and Mitchell to be near John's family, thus beginning a lifetime of ranching in Wheeler County, first on Mountain Creek and later in Twickenham, where her grandson Adam Temple keeps the tradition alive.
Sherla was a woman of many gifts and accomplishments. She and John built three homes together, doing much of the design and building themselves. Everything was done with care for each detail. Beginning with her sewing, her knitting, her cake decorating, her Ukrainian eggs, and her stained glass windows — her crafts remain as heirlooms to future generations.
Operating a large ranch, she developed many skills. She was accomplished on horseback in the fields and in the corral. She saved many calves with her emergency C-sections on laboring heifers. She was a famous hostess, always having a hearty meal for family and the many visitors who dropped by the Collins Ranches at mealtime.
In mid-life, she became an accomplished artist. Using oils, acrylics and water colors, she painted local landmarks and scenes from her rich imagination. In her late 60s, she put the finishing touches on the chimney of house number three, crawling on the roof to add a few more bricks.
In her 70s, she wrote her memoirs, "Butterflies and Rattlesnakes, Chronicles of a Life." Edited by her daughter Bobby and published by her niece Denise Stewart Wulfekuhle and her husband, Tim. It became an immediate success with her family and friends and all of those interested in stories of early life on the plains and on the ranch.
Sherla accomplished all of this while raising her two daughters and nourishing their children: Jennifer Ferenstein Platt, Allison Ferenstein (father, Marvin Ferenstein), Adam Collins Temple, Erica Wells Temple (father, Gary F. Temple), Amanda Jane Gabbe and Daniel Louis Gabbe (father, Steven Gabbe). Later, her great-grandchildren became the loves of her life: Alexander Jordan Temple (mother, Jackie Jordan Miller) and Marin Busmalis Temple (mother, Irene Elizabeth Busmalis) and Emmett Collins Platt (father, Tom Platt, deceased).
Sherla is preceded in death by her husband, John, in 2006, and survived by numerous loving nieces and nephews and many devoted neighbors and friends.
The family is grateful to the caregivers from Love Willing and the staffs at the Asher Clinic and St. Charles Hospice for their kindness at the end of her life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Sherla's name to the Asher Home Health in Fossil or the charity of your choice through Whispering Pines Funeral Home, 3168 NE Third St., Prineville, OR 97754, 541-416-9733.
To offer the family your condolences, please go to www.whisperingpinesfuneralhome.com.