Dale Collins, 89, passed to his heavenly life on Oct. 14, 2016.
A memorial service will be at 2 pm Tuesday, Oct. 18, in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church, with Dr. Howard Batson officiating. The family will meet friends in the Welcome Center following the service. Burial will be in Llano Cemetery. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.
Dale was born at home – 1204 West 13th – in Amarillo on April 9, 1927, to Bryan and Bernice Collins. He attended Bivins Elementary, Central Junior High and Amarillo High School.
Dale was the second of Bryan and Bernice’s four sons. With a house full of growing boys, Bernice was always cooking. Pies were her specialty and each day she made four – one for each boy. When sugar rationing went into effect during the Depression, she was forced to cut down to one pie a day. In later years Bernice continued to make pies, always slicing them into 4 pieces.
Burrell, Dale, Harland and Bryan, Jr. all played football at Amarillo High and three of the four were captains of the team. Dale was co-captain of the 1944 Sandies. He was twice named All District and was the winner of the Globe News Most Valuable Track Award.
Following high school all four boys played college football – Burrell for the Texas Longhorns, Dale and Harland for the Texas Aggies and Bryan, Jr. for Texas Tech.
Dale and his older brother Burrell were part of The Greatest Generation, those whose lives were molded by World War II. Burrell was killed in a plane crash while training to enter the war. In the spring of his senior year, Dale enlisted in the Navy, along with several of his classmates. Shortly after his enlistment, VJ Day occurred on Aug. 15, 1945, and fortunately Dale did not go overseas, but served on the destroyer McNair along the coast of California.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Dale attended Texas A & M University, where he played football. Following graduation he returned to Amarillo, and began working with his father in Collins Plumbing Company, established in 1906 by his grandfather, Thomas Collins.
On Jan. 27, 1951, Dale married Joan Willis, a fellow Sandie and an Amarillo College beauty, whom he met on a blind date. Marriage and two daughters brought out the gentle side of Dale that had been hidden underneath his football pads.
Dale and Joan’s marriage was a partnership centered on family, faith and Dale’s work. Two telephones sat on the desk in the kitchen of their home – one for the family, the other for Collins Plumbing Co. For more than 50 years Joan handled the business while Dale served his customers. A new water heater for a customer meant a big new box Dale brought home for the girls to play in.
Dale grew up at Polk Street Methodist Church, belonged to Paramount Terrace Christian for many years and was currently a member of First Baptist Church.
For 57 years Joan and Dale’s home was a place where their daughters, their daughters’ friends, their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s friends loved to gather. There was always good food, fresh tomatoes from the garden, a game of dominoes, football on the television and singing around the piano. Joan was the talker and Dale stayed in the background, but he was never absent. Even after a hard day’s work, Dale was available to his family – joining in whatever was taking place.
Dale enjoyed the simple pleasures of life – working in his garden, fixing breakfast with lots of butter for his grandchildren, making fudge at Christmas, crafting teacher gifts in his workshop, rooting for the Aggies with his Aggie grandson and simply being with his family. Joan and Dale never missed a child or grandchild’s recital, performance or tournament.
As Joan’s health deteriorated Dale was her faithful caregiver, caring for her in the same gentle, loving way he cared for his children and grandchildren. And that same love was passed on to his great-grandchildren. Dale loved babies and was always happy to step in and rock or feed a baby.
As the saying goes: “Once a Sandie, always a Sandie.” Dale’s Sandie connections lasted his whole life. Friendships forged in high school transformed into the ROMEOs – Retired Old Men Eating Out. Dale’s always-kind humor was evident when he’d talk about his aging friends getting together for an “organ recital” and the ROMEOs turning into Really Old Men Eating Out.
The family would like to thank those who cared for Dale with respect and compassion during the past three years.
Dale was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Burrell and Harland and his wife Joan in 2008. Survivors include his daughter Becky Smithee and husband John and daughter Mary Ann Melugin and husband Tony; his grandchildren Jennifer Smithee Rush and husband Sloan, Rebecca Smithee Bulla and husband Blaze, John True Smithee, Jr. and fiancée Ryan Batson and Justin Melugin and wife Diana; his great-grandchildren Caroline Rush, True Rush, Mabry Rush, Braylen Melugin, Greyson Melugin and Kashton Melugin; his brother Bryan Collins, Jr. and wife Sharon; his sister-in-law Peggy Collins; his nieces Lucy Southern, Amy Schneiderman and Catherine Cleveland and his nephews Bryan Collins, Hardy Collins, Edward Collins and Jim Southern.