Donald R. Collins Sr.’s legacy is living on through a fund established in his memory at the Scott County Community Foundation. Just like he gave his service to the community for so many years, many grants will be given back to charitable organizations in memory of Donald Sr.
Donald R. Collins, Sr., died on March 1, 2009 at the age of 73, after a long battle with cancer. Don graduated from St. James Catholic High School in 1954 and attended Pennsylvania Military College for one year. Both these schools are located in Chester, Penn. After a visit with his sister, Lee Newkirk, co-owner of Dawalt Funeral Home in Salem, Ind., he knew that his future was to be in funeral service. He graduated in 1957 from Indiana College of Mortuary Science in Indianapolis and was employed at Dawalt Funeral Home in Salem. He left Salem in 1957 for a position with Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Service in Indianapolis. In 1963, after two years with the firm, he was promoted to manager of Feeney Kirby Mortuary, a subsidiary of Flanner and Buchanan.
An opportunity to purchase Vest Funeral Home in l969 allowed Don and his family to return to southern Indiana.
The next 30 plus years were busy ones, raising a family, building a business and becoming actively involved in his new community. He was president of the PTO of Scottsburg Elementary, volunteered and organized blood drives for years for the American Red Cross and also served as a liaison for military families through the Red Cross. Don served as Scottsburg City Councilman, was a member of the water board and the Scottsburg Redevelopment Commission.
Since 1984, he held a position as either coroner or deputy coroner for Scott County and was certified as a Medico-Legal Death Investigator. An active member of the Democrat Central Committee, he served as treasurer of this organization for years.
Don was a member of the Church of American Martyrs, Knights of Columbus Council 8052, past president and member of the Kiwanis Club, member of the Amick-Baker-Kellams Chapter 156 Fraternal Order of Police, the Indiana Coroners Association, Charter Governor of Moose Family Center 2324 and served as president of the Scottsburg Senior Housing Corporation, better known as Craig Park from its inception until 2008 when he stepped down. He was a former board member of the Scott County Community Foundation and also the Board of Directors of the Scottsburg Building and Loan Association and past president of the Scottsburg Cemetery Association. Over the years, he held many board positions for various other organizations and was the recipient of the 2007 Mayor’s Good Neighbor Award.
“Don was very committed to this community and was proud of the many accomplishments and improvements he had participated in and witnessed over the years,” said Sue Collins, his wife of 51 years. “Our family felt like we should give back to the community through the Foundation to honor his memory.”
The Collins family chose to establish a fund in the Forever Tree Society, a memorial and tribute program that allows donors to support the mission of the Foundation now and for generations to come. There are three levels in the Society: the Blossom Fund, the Willow Fund and the Oak Fund. All donors who give an unrestricted gift of $500 or more become members of this special program. When gifts reach the $10,000 level, or a donor makes an unrestricted gift of $10,000 or more, a Willow Fund is created. This fund becomes a “stand alone” unrestricted endowment fund, in which a portion of annual earnings are granted in the name of the honoree each year during the Foundation’s grants cycle.
When gifts to a Willow Fund reach $50,000, an Oak Fund is created. The earnings from this fund will support a specific charitable project in the community.
While no additional gifts are required to maintain any of these funds, donors are encouraged to consider future gifts so that the Forever Tree Society’s impact will continue to grow in Scott County. There is still matching money available to donors who would like to establish their own fund or give to an existing fund in the Forever Tree Society. All donations are matched dollar-for-dollar.
As members of the Willow level, gifts have already been granted to the community in Donald Sr.’s name.
Don never took credit for his hard work and dedication. When asked he would always say how grateful he was to this community for accepting him and allowing him to serve them. He was very appreciative for the opportunity that this community had given him. When the family was looking through his many pictures and newspaper clippings after his death they came across a quote of his in the newspaper when he changed the name of the funeral home from Vest Funeral Home to Collins Funeral Home.
He said, “During our residence in Scott County, our family has graciously been accepted by our friends in the community. This we appreciate, and we wish to thank everyone for the many courtesies which have been extended to us.”
Don really loved this community and the opportunity he was given here. He showed that through his dedication and service to the many families that have called on him over the years.
“We want to continue to dedicate ourselves to this community and giving back through the Foundation is a good start and something Dad would want,” stated Kevin Collins, Don’s son and president of Collins Funeral Home.