VERSAILLES — Edgar “Ed” Collins, a retired Versailles businessman, veteran, family man and dedicated community leader is to be laid to rest during a veteran’s service in Greenlawn Cemetery here today. His passing came the first day of this year and decade at the age of 83.
Collins and wife Phyllis Collins, also deceased, had owned the Collins Super Valu for 31 years. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marines, and was a lifelong and dedicated member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
One of his sons, Merlin, had this to say about the patriarch of the family: “My father, having lived in Versailles his entire life, loved this community. He’s had lifelong friends, many over 60 years. If I go back and forth between ‘my’ and ‘our,’ it is due to speaking for myself and my siblings.”
Merlin went on, “He treated every person the same way, with love, respect and kindness. My father never met a person he did not want to get to know. He was a great listener. As owner of his mom-and-pop grocery, all of us grew up working in the store. He taught us to work hard, always do our best, but also to enjoy our work. He loved his grocery and the customers he served. Later in life, after the closing of the grocery, Dad took to making peanut brittle and cookies for many, and for years, with the help of family, he made the candy and cookies and gave it away to so many that had an impact in his life. His sharing of cookies was his way of saying ‘thank you and I honor your friendship’.”
He added, “My father loved his family, his church and his community. I never heard him say a negative thing about anyone. Our father has set the bar high for the family he raised. Raising five children, our father always found the ways to make each of us feel special in our own way.”
Donna Peters, whose son Scott is Collins’ son-in-law, remarked, “What a wonderful man! After reading all the comments on Facebook, I thought someone really hit upon something special about Ed Collins. He really loved people! And he proved this by giving of his time to help his family and fellow man, the town of Versailles and his church family also. As much as Ed loved people, people loved him even more.”
“Ed was an excellent neighbor,” said Tom Magoto Jr. “He offered me use of his trailer anytime I wanted to borrow it. He was very involved in the community. I remember when I was Poultry Day chairman, we had some chickens left over on Sunday night and he sold them for us on Monday up at his grocery and didn’t charge us a penny. Ed always had a smile and was very kind and personable.”
Carolyn Waymire stated, “I always called him Eddie, I guess, because my mother did. He was as big as life. He never failed to speak and even stop and talk. It didn’t matter if you wore a suit and tie or your work clothes from the farm. That is the way he was raised and how he raised his family. The older-than-him group was always met by a ‘Hi Miss Hartzell’ or ‘how’s farming this year Mr. Hartzell?’ I guess that is how I would most remember him: Kind-hearted, gentle and a gentleman. His friendly demeanor every time I saw him told his story. He was truly devoted to family, church and community. I could have gone on for pages. He will be missed…a wonderful man.”
“I met Ed Collins through Trinity Lutheran Church but really became friends by doing repairs to our church building,” stated Kim Trittschuh Klipstine. “Shortly after retiring, my husband Bill and I worked with Ed painting and patching, inevitably learning something new on each project. One summer day, we were working on windows at the church, hot and sweaty, on ladders and splattered with paint wondering how Ed convinced us we should participate, but there he was, sawdust flying just smoking his pipe, chatting away, enjoying the day. Ed was passionate about Trinity, where he was a lifelong member, and a patriarch of the congregation. He had a wonderful laugh and love of life, a true family man. He made us feel like part of his family, the Collins family and the Trinity family, and, for that, I will always be grateful. He was a special man who will be missed incredibly.”
This message was found on the Versailles Poultry Days website: “Versailles lost a great citizen and a friend this week. Among his many contributions to the community he volunteered, along with his father and sons, for 40 years at Poultry Days.”
Randy Gump, said, “I got to know Ed back in 1977 when he owned and operated the grocery store downtown. Ed was always happy to see you and strike up a conversation. He was always looking for the positive and willing to to serve the community. Ed’s lifelong presence and contribution of services will always be a bright reflection on the Versailles community.”
Debra Pohl: “Ed was a great friend of the Versailles Area Museum. Whenever we needed something he was right there helping us. He was a very civic-minded member of the community, always doing or helping wherever he was needed. He will be missed. And he made the best ham loaf ever.”
Agreeing with her was Jim Raterman.
“Ed would always give cookies away and he made the best ham loaf. I’ve had many enjoyable conversations with Ed over the years and every time I walk away from our conversation I felt better. If every village had an Ed Collins, it would be a better village. He is one of the pillars of the community.”
“He is going to be missed very much around Trinity Lutheran Church,” said Karen Schultz. “He did a lot around here. He was very active in church and passionate about Trinity. He was a big part of our bell tower getting refurbished and up and running again. You could always count on him. He was in charge of the property committee over the years. He did a lot of projects.”