Lewis Leon Colin, 97, of Lower Burrell, passed peacefully on Sunday, January 26, 2020 in Armstrong Memorial Hospital, East Franklin Township. He was born February 12, 1922 in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada to the late Leon Jean and Grace M. (Stitt) Colin. Lew resided in Tarentum and Natrona Heights before moving to Lower Burrell. He was a 1940 graduate of Tarentum High School. A WWII veteran, Lew served as a United States Navy Fighter bomber pilot, flying Grumman F6F Hellcats and Chance Vought Corsair F4U's from the US Essex Class Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. Randolph. Ensign Colin shot down four confirmed Japanese aircraft and destroyed many other on the ground along with much ordiance of ships, trains and tanks. Ensign Colin was shot down by enemy anit-aircraft fire on May 3, 1945 at Kikai. His plane went down and disappeared in the ocean. He was able to inflate his life preserver and eventually was rescued by a PBY seaplane and taken to a hospital ship. After dark Ensign Colin and a Lieutenant from the U.S.S. Bunker Hill lowered a whale boat and made their way to Okinawa, across land and to a United States airfield. Ensign Colin killed on Japanese soldier on the way. He forced the pilot of the TBM mail plane to take them to the Aircraft Carrier, U.S.S. Bunker Hill; there he was swapped to the U.S.S. Randolph for ice cream! Within a week of being shot down, he was instrumental in extricating two fellow airmen from the Japanese Inland Sea one-half mile off shore of their life raft. Ensign Colin was awarded the Air Medal six times, the Distinguished Flying Cross Twice, was recommended for the Silver Star, received the Third Fleet Ribbon fro Okinawa, Fourth Fleet Ribbon for Okinawa, Iwo Jima Ribbon with two Stars, Asatic Pacific Campaign Medal with Two Bronze Stars, World War Victory Medal, American theater Ribbon and the Combat Action Ribbon. Lew worked in the accounting offices of Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in Brackenridge for 42 years, retiring on December 31, 1982. He was the founder of the Alle-Kiski Sports Car Club, serving as president from 1956-1960. He enjoyed sports car competition and won thirty four trophies, of which fourteen were first place. Lew was involved with many other sporting activities including motorcycles, boats and aircraft. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was a member and president of the Tarentum District Sportsmen's Club. He was a member, instructor and Commander of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, Second District, Flotilla 74 in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Lew took pride in his marksmanship in competition as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 92, Three Stage Pistol League, the Industrial Pistol League, Metropolitan Police League of Pittsburgh, Ten Ring Pistol League and the Ohio Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio. He won seventeen trophies, of which ten were first place, plus eight medals and ribbons from 1963 through 1965. Lew served as a Pennsylvania State Constable from 1984-1987, a Democratic Committee Person for the City of Lower Burrell from 1984-1996, served on the City of Lower Burrell Parks Commission from 1984-1992, was appointed to the City of Lower Burrell's first Emergency Management Coordinator position in 1985 and wrote the City's Disaster Plan and Policy that was adopted by many cities throughout Pennsylvania. He was recognized for his outstanding performance and coordination of the water crisis on April 1, 1990 through April 4, 1990 by Mayor Dennis Kowalski and the Municipal Authority of the City of New Kensington. He retained this position until 1993. He also served on the City of Lower Burrell Planning Commission from1992 until 1995 when he was appointed to the Lower Burrell Zoning Hearing Board, also serving as Secretary until December 2008. Lew joined the Lower Burrell Volunteer Fire Company #3 in 1986 as an active fireman at the age of sixty-four, completing fire school training, driving trucks and ambulances. He served as Assistant Manager, Treasurer and member of the House Committee of the Lower Burrell Firemans Social Club until June 1993. Lew was a lifemember of Robert E. Davies American Legion Post 868 in Lower Burrell, where he served as Chaplain in 1992 and 1993. He was elected Commander in 1994 and each year thereafter through 2000. He served as President of the Home Association for three years and Trustee for two years and was awarded the Post Commander of the Year Award by the 31st District of the American Legion in 1995 and 1998. Lew as past treasurer of the Joint Veterans Action Council, past member of Tarentum Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5758, past member of Natrona American Legion Post 48 and was Exulted Ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge 644 in Tarentum in 1956. Lew was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 92, Lower Burrell; life member of the Seventh Street Sportsmen's Club, New Kensington, life member of the North American Hunting Club: life member of the Consumer's League of America;, New Kensington; Associate Member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Allegheny Valley Lodge No.39, past member of the Loyal Order of Moose No. 53 in Lower Burrell.
Lew enjoyed the vacations he took annually with his wife, Pat to the Erie Islands, Catawba Peninsula, Ohio; Chautauqua Lake, New York; their timeshare at Treasure Lake, Dubois, Pennsylvania and trips to Maryville and the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee; Nags Head, North Carolina and most memorable was the first reunion of the United States Navy Airy Group 12 in Charleston, South Carolina in 1987. Lew remained active until November 14, 2006 when his left leg was amputated above knee. In August 2001, he moved to Bayberry court Assisted Living in Lower Burrell. In March 2013, he moved from Bayberry Court to Altmeyer's Personal Care Home outside of Kittanning, Pa.
Lew is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia Louise (Wray-Wood) Colin; step-sons, Robert E. (Betty) Wood, of Maryville, Tn., Eric H. Wood, of Maryville, Tn., and Mark K. Wood (also known as Marc Michael Killian), of Sun City Center, Florida; step grandchildren, Tammy J. (Steven) Cupp, Sherry R. Borquez-Webster, Joseph Correll and Patricia Y. Martin; step-great-grandchildren, Megan N. Cupp, Stephanie J. Cupp, Heaven L. Borquez-Webster, Angel R. Borquez- Webster, Haley K. Borquez-Webster, Alleson J. Borquez-Webster, Briana F. Borquez-Webster, Casey T. Martin, Caleb T. Martin and Cyrus T. Martin. Also surviving are a step-niece Hollie R. (Joseph) Pukal and family, of Fawn Township and step-brother-in-law, Ronald N. (Agnes) Wray and family, of Greenwood, South Carolina.
Friends will be received on Wednesday from 5-8 p.m. in the Cicholski-Zidek Funeral Home, Inc., 1522 Carlisle Street, National Heights 724-224-8688, where a blessing service will be held on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Burial will be in Eddyville Cemetery, Eddyville. The V.F.W. Post 92 will hold services in the funeral home on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., followed by American Legion Post 868 at 6:00 p.m. To send an online condolence please visit www.cicholski-zidekfh.com.
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