ROCKLAND – Samuel Wilson Collins Jr., 88, died peacefully March 22, 2012, surrounded by his beloved wife of 59 years, Dorothy, and his loving family at home. Collins was born on the first day of the potato harvest, Sept. 17, 1923, in Caribou, the oldest of four sons, to Samuel Wilson Collins and Elizabeth Black Collins.
As a young man in Caribou, Collins picked potatoes during the annual harvest. An avid gardener throughout his adult life, he always had a bountiful garden. Collins was president of his high school class, helped on his grandfather’s farm and worked at the family business, SW Collins Lumber Co. During high school, he also worked for NYNEX, going from street to street checking that telephone lines were in working order, confirming phone numbers and addresses for the telephone book, and earning $25.00 per week. After graduating from Caribou High School, he attended the University of Maine, Orono, graduating a year early due to World War II. After college Collins went to work for the war department in Arlington, Va., where he did Army intelligence work. As the war ended Collins attended Harvard Law School and received his juris doctor in 1947. Though offered a job to clerk for the Massachusetts Supreme Court, Collins wanted to return to Maine and accepted a position in Rockland, where he would practice law for 40 years. He joined the firm of Alan Bird and later became senior partner of Collins, Crandall, Hanscom and Pease. In 1988 he was appointed to the Maine Supreme Court by Gov. John McKernan. He served as an associate justice for six years and in 1994 transitioned to active-retired justice status and continued to serve. Active in the Republican Party, Collins followed in his father’s footsteps and was elected to the Maine Senate in 1975, serving for 10 years. He shepherded through the adoption of several important law revisions, including Maine Probate Code and Maine Criminal Code. He was elected by his Republican peers to serve as Senate majority leader. He also had the privilege of serving in the Maine Senate with his brother, Donald F. Collins of Caribou. After settling in Rockland, Collins became active in many civic organizations. While serving on the school district board of trustees, he suggested to the superintendent that he hire more female teachers. The new home economics teacher was Dorothy Murray Small of Bath and in less than a year they were married. In 1954 they built a home on Samoset Road, where they raised their three children in a wonderful, close-knit neighborhood. Collins built a small camp on Megunticook Lake, Camden, where the family spent their summers and he became involved with Megunticook Watershed Association, serving twice as president and once as vice president. Collins was active in the Universalist Church, Rockland, for 65 years, serving as board chairman and superintendent of the church school for 15 years, as well as president of the Universalist Churches of Maine and president of the Northeast District of the Universalist/Unitarian Association. He served on the school district board from 1952 to 1960 during which time the North and South schools and Morrill Athletic Field were built. He was a past member of Rockland Jaycees and was active in Rockland Rotary Club until his death. He was honored by Rotary as a three-time Paul Harris Fellow and was president of Rotary in 1957 to 1958. Collins was a founding member of the Maine Lobster Festival and served as grand marshall of the parade in 2009. Collins served as president of Rockland Cemetery Association for 20 years. He was a past president of the board of Pen Bay Medical Center from 1985 to 1987 and a member of the hospital’s Osprey Club. He was a longtime member of the B&B’s investment group and was a member of American Bar Association, Maine Bar Association and Maine Bar Foundation. Collins enjoyed traveling to many countries with his wife and in later years, they spent 16 winters in Green Valley, Ariz.
In addition to his wife, Dorothy, Collins is survived by his son, Edward Murray Collins of Camden; his daughter, Elizabeth Collins Macomber and her husband, Jon, of Beverly, Mass.; his daughter, Diane Collins Field and her husband, Sumner, of Gray; and his AFS son, Bandula daSilva of Sri Lanka. Other surviving family members include his brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Patricia Collins of Caribou; sister-in-law, Barbara Lebel of Bath; grandchildren, Justin Samuel Coffin and his wife, Briana, of Rockland, Jane Rose Collins of Brooklyn, N.Y., Samuel Wilson Collins of Camden, Emma Madolyn Collins of Camden, Abigail Elizabeth Goodridge of San Diego, Zachary Andrew Field of Gray, Caitlin Margaret Field of Gray, Trevor Thomas Macomber and his wife, Kelly, of Sandy Hook, Conn., and Laura Elizabeth Macomber of Brooklyn, N.Y.; great-grandchild, Viola Mae Coffin of Rockland; many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his infant son, Peter Donald Collins, in 1959; and his brothers, H. Douglas Collins and David A. Collins. The family is grateful for the compassionate care provided by the staff of Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care & Hospice.
Visiting hours will be held 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Friday, March 30, at Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland. Family and friends are invited to attend a celebration of life and luncheon 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12, at Samoset Resort, 220 Warrenton St., Rockport, with the Rev. Mark Glovin officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation, 22 White St., Rockland, ME 04841; First Universalist Church, 345 Broadway, Rockland, ME 04841 or Rockland Rotary Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1811, Rockland, ME 04841. To share a memory or condolence with the Collins’ family, please visit his online guest book at obituaries at