CARIBOU, Maine – Donald Frederick Collins, World War II veteran, public servant, community leader, and former president of S.W. Collins Co., died on March 10, 2018, of congestive heart failure and complications of Alzheimer’s disease in Caribou. He was 92.
A native of Caribou, Don was born on Nov. 30, 1925, the second of four sons of Samuel Wilson and Elizabeth Black Collins. At 18, he left the University of Maine in Orono to enlist in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 87th Infantry Division in Europe. Wounded twice in the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster and a Bronze Star. Following his military service, Don completed his education at the university, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1949 with a B.A. in business administration.
He married Patricia R. McGuigan of Port Jervis, N.Y., his wife of 70 years. Don succeeded his father as president of the family’s lumber and building-materials business, which has been operated continuously by the Collins family since its founding in 1844. For several years, he also managed Collins Construction Company, building houses on his family’s former farm to meet the demand for housing following WWII. Retired in 1992, he continued to serve on S.W. Collins Company’s board.
Like his father and grandfather, Don was deeply committed to public service. He served as mayor of Caribou, as a state representative to the Maine Legislature, and as a Maine State Senator for four terms. He and his late brother, Sam Collins of Rockland, were the first brothers in Maine history to serve simultaneously in the Maine Senate. Service in all spheres was a hallmark of Don’s life. He was a director of Maine Community Foundation, Maine Public Broadcasting Corporation, and Loring Development Authority, and president of Caribou Hospital District, Maine Retail Lumber Dealers Association, and the Caribou Rotary Club. He chaired the Cary Hospital Board and the building committee for the new hospital, the Caribou Chamber of Commerce, the Caribou Development Corporation, and the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. A longtime member of the American Legion Post and the V.F.W., he served on the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery Committee. Don served many years as a director of the Maine Mutual Insurance Company, now MMG Insurance, the Aroostook Trust Company and Maine National Bank. For his alma mater, he chaired the University of Maine Foundation and was a member of the University of Maine Board of Visitors. He also served as president of the Foundation of the University of Maine at Presque Isle. His leadership and community service earned him many honors including Caribou Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, the Maine Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Business Leader of the Year, Maine Merchants Association Retailer of the Year, the University of Maine Black Bear Award and Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award. Don was inducted into the Northern Maine Community College’s Construction Hall of Fame. He was also the Honorary Grand Marshal of Caribou’s Sesquicentennial in 2009. Don was a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Caribou, where he sang tenor in the choir for decades. In later years he worshiped at the Gray Memorial United Methodist Church.
Besides his wife, Pat, Don is survived by their six children: daughter, Kathleen Wiesendanger and her husband, John, of Leland, NC; son, Michael and his wife, Debbie, of Saco; daughter, U.S. Senator Susan Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, of Bangor; daughter, Nancy Collins and her husband, Richard Sperry, of Haverford, PA; and sons, Sam and Gregg and their wives, Lise and Lori, respectively, of Caribou; eleven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours will be at Mockler Funeral Home, 24 Reservoir St., Caribou, on Thursday, March 15, 2018, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A funeral will be held on Friday, March 16, 2018, at 11 a.m. at United Methodist Church, 2 Prospect St., Caribou, with the Rev. Tim Wilcox officiating. For those who wish to honor his memory, donations may be made to Gray Memorial United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 69, Caribou, ME 04736, or the S.W. Collins Scholarship at the University of Maine, c/o University of Maine Foundation, 2 Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792. www.mocklerfuneralhome.com