Life’s many changes kept things interesting for the Kollases

Paul and Maria Kollas at Lookout Mountain.

Paul and Maria Kollas at Lookout Mountain.

The constant in Paul and Maria Kollas’ life together has been its inconstancy — from the very beginning of their marriage in 1962.

They met in 1961 in Biloxi, Miss., while both were serving in the U.S. Air Force. Just after they were married, Paul left.

“I was assigned to a post in Australia to set up a new station, and Maria still had six months or so to finish up in the Air Force before she could join me,” Paul said. So when I met her on the airplane, she said, ‘I don’t feel like your wife anymore!’”

“That’s really where our marriage started,” Maria said. The couple lived there four years, and their first son, Geoffrey, was their “most treasured souvenir.”

After that they went back to Mississippi for another three years or so, where daughter Mitzi and son Timothy were born, and the couple was separated again.

“I went off to Korea, by myself,” Paul said. “It was an isolated tour; it wasn’t my choice — that was 13 months.”


Paul and Maria Kollas early in their marriage.

The family’s next home, and one of their favorites, was Albuquerque, N.M., for a couple of years. Then it was off to Germany for the next eight years.

Maria was born and raised in northern Germany, in Bremen, so that was familiar turf for her. The young family started out in Wiesbaden for a year or so, then a town off the Belgian border for another couple of years, then up to Hannover for the rest of the time.

Paul was working in the radar field, and didn’t get much free time.

“It was an intense job; I was in maintenance, and maintenance gets stepped on by operations people!” he said. “But Maria worked for MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation), and she arranged bus tours and so on.”

“I took service families on several trips to Holland, and Berlin when it was still divided — that was really outstanding,” she said. “We went on one together.”

“I did get to go skiing three or four times in eight years, in the Alps,” Paul said. Having grown up in Hood River, he learned on “little Cooper Spur, when it still had the rope tow.”

When the time came for Paul to retire, deciding where to live was easy, they said: back to Hood River, where Paul was born. They have lived here since 1982.

Now that they don’t have to change locations, they keep things interesting by staying busy: They like to walk together, hike and attend local theater and music events, and see their grandchildren when they can.

“And our youngest son has a farm near Sheridan; we love to go there and help out,” Maria said.

She also works a few days a week at Tucker Road Animal Hospital, where she has been employed for 24 years, and Paul volunteers at Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum a half day a week.

The 51 years of constant change has been a good thing for the Kollases, Maria said.

“I think just seeing a lot of places, it just kept life interesting,” she said. “Even though it was tough to have to be packed up and move every so often; to leave the people that you fell in love with — your friends — and move on. In a way you cling to each other, because that’s a constant.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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