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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daniel Varnum Collins

November 3, 1996

WE MISS YOU
With the presidential election only a few days away, Dan Collins, retired professor, retired Presbyterian minister, active Democratic Party volunteer, was concentrating on what needed to be done to assure the reelection of President Bill Clinton. In his wheelchair by the phone he was preparing lists of people to call to remind them of their roles on Tuesday. Some would be poll watchers; some would provide transportation for people who could not otherwise get to the polls; others would make phone calls reminding supporters who hadn't yet voted to do so.

Dan and Barb and I had already voted early: for President Clinton, of course. Dan was on peritoneal dialysis for his kidneys, had lost his leg to a diabetic infection nearly ten years before. He had heart complications diagnosed just the summer before. That Sunday morning, November 3, 1996, his heart was bothering him. Barb and I drove him to the local emergency room where the doctors decided he should go by ambulance to Methodist Hospital in Des Moines. We reassured my son, Russ, that Dad would probably be back in a day or so. Such trips to the hospital were part of our life in those days.

Dan and I talked, before they took him in for some surgery to relieve the heart congestion, about who to call to be sure the Tuesday Election Day responsibilities were covered, in case he had to remain in the hospital. It was the last thing we talked about.

Barb and I waited that evening in the empty waiting room at Methodist. Close to midnight the chaplain came out to tell us Dan had died on the operating table.

So unexpected, yet not a surprise with all the health problems he had suffered over the years.

Norm Schouten led a beautiful memorial service the next Saturday. We scattered Dan's ashes at Isle Royale National Park the next summer, Barb and I, my daughter Becky, and my son Ben.

Bill Clinton was reelected.

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