Colleen J Colson was born Johanna Collen Cushenberry on May 18,
1932 in Caney Kansas located in Montgomery county. Her parents were
William Cushenberry and Joanna Agusta Lowrey. They had relocated
from Oklahoma to Kansas. She had six brothers and sisters: Wyvonne
Sequoah (John), Edward Beacher, Kathleen (Sue), William (Bill), Bobby
Joe (Bob), and Shirlee Mae.
As a young girl she attended grade school in Kansas until her family
moved to California. She spent her teens in the North
Hollywood/Burbank area. She decided that she didn’t like her name
Johanna and used her middle name “Colleen” which she had legally
Baptized on June 12, 1954 at Our Lady of Zapopan Church in North
Hollywood. She married Jess L. Ruiz and had four children, Anthony,
Cynthia, James and Jesse. Later she remarried for a second time to Roy
Colson and kept his name for the rest of her life.
She worked for the County of Los Angeles as the Community Liaison
Representative to the American Indian Community. She is an enrolled
member of the Cherokee Nation. During her career she was an
advocate for her community and served as a Commissioner on the
Native American Indian Community, El Pueblo Commission for the City
of LA, Community Action Board (CAB) and Southwest Indian Museum
She was celebrated for her work to develop a resource guide for the
Native American Community in Los Angeles. In 1999 she was a delegate
to the historic Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention. She
welcomed many of the Cherokee Tribal Chiefs to Los Angeles including
Wilma Mankiller, Chad Smith, and Joe Byrd.
She became friends with many of the well-known locals including Iron
Eyes Cody and Robert Sundance.
For many years she acted as the Native American liaison to Tournament
of Roses and ensured they were represented in the Rose Parade.
Upon retirement from the County of Los Angeles she remained active in
local politics and served as the treasure for the Northeast Democratic
When she was not working you could find her traveling to Las Vegas to
play the Slot machines. She also enjoyed going on cruises which
included the Caribbean, Mexican Rivera and Alaska.
In her later years you could find her gardening and pulling weeds on her
hill and spending time with family.
She was a strong-willed woman and lived life on her terms. She gave a
lot to many people.
In 2019 her eldest son, Tony passed away. She is survived by her three
children; Cynthia, James and Jesse. As well as her grandson, Arturo D
Her Spirit is now free and soars with the Eagles
She has “Walked On”
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