Ula Clyde Collison, 88, athlete, coached youth sports for 4 decades in Annapolis

November 26, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Ula Clyde Collison was never at a loss for words or things to do. There was always a joke to tell or a horseshoe to pitch; a flower to plant or yarn to spin; a prank to pull or game to umpire. He could do them all with the best of them.

Mr. Collison, 88, died Saturday of heart failure, said his daughter, Barbara Lamar Moyer of Guam. He suffered from Parkinson's disease and apparently became disoriented and fell down an embankment near his Annapolis home.

An athlete and Annapolis sports legend for more than 40 years, Mr. Collison's accomplishments include four decades of coaching youth sports; perennial all-star in the city's adult fast-pitch softball league; horseshoe champion; and golfing gold-medal winner.

"How do you spell busy? U-L-A," said Bob Packington, a longtime friend.

"The best way to describe him was charismatic," Ms. Moyer said. "He was a man who enjoyed life and anything active."

Until 1995, he was active with Annapolis sports teams, either through coaching, officiating or selling hot dogs at local ballparks -- including Collison Field, which is named in his honor.

"He stopped in 1995, but that was with force," his daughter said. The "force" was his wife, who decided that at age 86 it was time for him to slow down.

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Collison graduated from Forest Park High School in 1926. During high school, he worked as a stable boy and apprentice at Pimlico Race Course.

Mr. Collison worked as a meat cutter during the 1930s while developing an interest in sports. He participated as a bantamweight in the area's Golden Gloves boxing tournament while playing amateur baseball.

He served in the National Guard in the late 1930s and joined the Navy during the early 1940s during World War II.

He worked odd jobs upon his discharge in 1946 and moved to Annapolis in 1948 to work as an underwater welder at John Trumpy Yacht Yard until 1950. He worked in a similar position at the Navy's Experimental Station from 1950 to 1960.

He was named Annapolis city athletic director in 1963 and served until 1978, when he officially retired.

"He still was involved with the teams. He never really stopped until two years ago," Ms. Moyer said.

He stopped playing softball when he was well into his 50s -- only to play golf full time and pitch horseshoes.

"I don't think anything he could ever do would surprise me," said Kenneth Arrenton, an Annapolis resident and longtime friend. "He probably didn't want to sit at home and needed some more challenges."

He won the Annapolis Horseshoe Championship in 1959 and won three gold medals, one silver and two bronze in the Maryland State Senior Olympics in golf from 1988 to 1992.

"The thing about Ula is that he always had something to say, some way to make you smile," Mr. Arrenton said.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at John M. Taylor Funeral Home, 147 Duke of Gloucester St. in Annapolis.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife, the former Pat Carnes, whom he married in 1940; a son, James Edward Collison of Eastport; three daughters, Ellen Ryan McDermott of Virginia, Patricia Gene Donoho of St. Margaret's, and Carole Ruth Hardesty of Annapolis; 16 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/26/97

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