ROCKLAND, Maine — Samuel W. Collins Jr., who served in top positions within both the state Legislature and judiciary, died Thursday morning at his home.
Collins, 88, had served as both Senate Majority Leader in the Maine Legislature and as a justice on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
“Sam was an extraordinary attorney,” said Rockland attorney Stephen Hanscom who was a colleague of Collins. “He was very caring about all his clients. He was also a wonderful teacher to us younger lawyers.”
Hanscom joined the Rockland law firm of Crandall, Hanscom & Collins in 1974 and took over many of Collins’ clients when Collins was elected to the state senate to represent most of Knox County. He said Collins was a mentor to attorneys such as himself, Willard “Skip” Pease and Wayne Crandall.
Collins’ son Edward later joined the firm.
Samuel Collins served five terms in the state senate, being elected as Republican majority leader for the 1981-82 session and minority leader for 83-84.
He was appointed in 1988 to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. In 1994, he retired but was appointed to an active retired status with the court, a position he was reappointed to as late as 2009.
Collins was a native of Caribou. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono and Harvard School of Law. He came to Rockland and practiced law for 40 years in the city.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, issued a statement Thursday about her uncle.
“My uncle, Sam Collins, made an enormous contribution to the state he loved — as a state senator, as a Supreme Court Justice, and as a leader in his community. He was a person of such integrity and intelligence that people naturally turned to him for advice and leadership. My heart goes out to his wife Dottie, their children Elizabeth, Ed and Diane, and to my father who will dearly miss his brother.”
Maine Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley also issued a statement Thursday about Samuel Collins.
“Sam Collins was the quintessential gentleman. As an attorney, a legislator, and a judge he inspired respect for his own work and respect for the law,” she said in the statement. “He was kind, supportive, and very smart, and he expected and inspired thoughtful and thorough work in everyone around him. … He will be greatly missed by his friends on the Maine Bench and throughout the legal community.”