Laurel Sue Collins McDonald died Feb. 24, 2020 in Cedar Park after a long and valiant battle against Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Sue, as she was known to all, was born on Aug. 20, 1932 in Smith Center, Kansas to Rosina Ann Albert (“Murr”) Collins and Edgar Wesley (“Pappy”) Collins, who met while serving as Teachers in the Kansas school system. Sue was raised in Kansas and Nebraska briefly before the family settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There Sue learned to ice skate at the Broadmoor Hotel and ice skating became a lifelong passion, even after she could no longer hit the rink. The Collins family finally settled in Amarillo, where she graduated from Amarillo High School in 1950. Active in school, she was a member of the Junior ROTC, was voted “Prettiest Knees” and served on the Queen’s Court during homecoming, having been runner-up as Miss Amarillo High.
In the fall of 1950, Sue enrolled at West Texas State Teacher’s College in Canyon (now West Texas A&M University) where she graduated in 1954 with a B.A. degree in Education. That fall she became an elementary school teacher in the Amarillo public schools.
She married in 1953 to Ralph Wayne (also a graduate of West Texas State) and became the mother of two children, Reb and Carla. She became a full-time Mother at that point in her life and the family moved to Austin in the late 1960’s, after several years in Plainview, where she had co-managed and operated ‘Wayne’s Restaurant’ in Plainview, with her husband. Once in Austin, Sue was involved in the Legislative Wives Club at the State Capitol in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. In 1972-73, Sue was President of the Barton Hills Elementary School P.T.A. in Austin where she helped lead an initiative to put a sidewalk from Lamar Boulevard to Barton Hills Elementary School along Barton Skyway and Barton Hills Drive, so no child would have to walk to school on the busy streets.
In 1967, she was first diagnosed with an incurable form of skin cancer that was supposed to cost her first a leg and then her life. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of physicians at the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic she lost neither, and in fact outlived all of her doctors. In 1991, she was diagnosed with breast cancer where she once again beat cancer due to the medical teams at MD Anderson. Her lifespan was expanded by more than five decades thanks to the medical professionals that helped her beat cancer twice in an era when cancer was considered often a death sentence.
The family moved to Brownwood in 1974 where Sue would live for the next 27 years. In the 1980’s she resumed her teaching career in the Brownwood Public Schools, where she taught until her retirement in 1991. During her time in Brownwood she was a volunteer at the Brownwood Hospital Auxiliary program. In 1987, she married Joseph Clingman McDonald and remained married to him until his death in 1999. During her marriage to Joe they traveled the country and visited every presidential library in the United States. That tradition also continued until she could no longer travel. This feat was recognized by Presidents Carter, Clinton and Bush (43) in Letters of Congratulations.
In 2001, she retired to Austin where she remained for the rest of her life. She was active in the Texas Retired Teachers Association, the Northwest Neighbors Group of Austin and volunteered at Seton Northwest Hospital for many years.
Sue McDonald was an avid letter and Christmas card writer, was passionate about holidays and decorated at every occasion until illness prevented her from doing so near the end of her life. She was a passionate and loyal friend maintaining connections to those friends and relatives that most would have lost contact with due to time or distance. If you were her friend, you were her friend for life.
Sue Collins McDonald is survived by her , Reb Wayne of Austin, nephew Logan Collins and his wife Jenny of Cumberland, R.I., niece Michelle Collins Kirincich and her husband Rob of Wheaton, Illinois, niece Jennifer Collins-Friedrichs and her husband Bryan of Seattle, Washington, and nine grand nephews and nieces, all of whom were more like grandchildren to her; and extended relatives on the Collins, Albert, Tipton, Clingman and McDonald sides of her family; especially Jackie Tipton Rider of Brownwood and Kim and Bret Bruton and their sons of Brownwood and finally her cat Paige (who went to a good home where she is loved). Sue was preceded in death by her parents, daughter Carla Diane Wayne and her brother, Richard Collins.
The family would like to thank numerous friends and neighbors who helped care for her in the last years of her life, especially her back-door neighbor, Kevin Moomaw of Austin, who she shared a fence with for 15 years; Donna and Ian Brooks who allowed her home and garden to thrive even when she could no longer maintain them herself; her extended network of friends across Texas and this nation she loved; in particular Lucy Harkey of Brownwood, and Elizabeth Ballard of Bryan, both of whom were more like sisters and were lifelong friends; Helen Cruz of San Angelo, who’s letters continued to Sue even when she could no longer comprehend them,; and Sara Broberg of Aurora, Colorado, who’s friendship with Sue lasted eight decades. Finally, special thanks to the Care Teams at Sundance Memory Care in Cedar Park, who gave Sue joy, respect and dignity in her final days.
A graveside memorial service will be held in the near future; in accordance with her wishes, her cremated remains will be placed in the family plot at Eastlawn Memorial Park in Early. The family also requests that any charitable memorials to be given in her name be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association of America, the American Cancer Society or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Hospital in Houston. Any correspondence or condolences to the family should be sent to: Reb Wayne, PO Box 201131, Austin, TX 78720-1131.
Sue’s was a life well lived. “Death be Not Proud.” Sue always said she just wanted to have an Irish Wake and everyone make a toast, raise their glass and say, “Here’s to Good ol’ Sue!” So if you were her friend, raise a glass wherever you are to her and know that one day, you will see her again.
Arrangements by Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, Austin, Texas – (512) 452-8811. Remembrances may be shared at www.wcfish.com.