My brother, Michael Lee Collins, passed away Friday night. His life was a testament to the luck of birth and something the "I made my own breaks" crowd should consider once in awhile. Born in 1948, he lived in an era where medical technology wasn't as advanced as it is today. In the '60s, he had back surgery that might be done on an outpatient basis now, but, instead, his surgery left him somewhat crippled.
He attended a full year of high school while lying in a bed in our house, communicating only through some fancy -- for those days -- intercom system. He missed out on a lot.
He went to UMass in Amherst for a semester -- he wanted to be an engineer. Then he became a linotype operator at Colonial Press in Clinton. He loved his motorcycles, he always wanted to restore old cars, but wasn't particularly good at it.
In later years, emphysema (he didn't smoke) and diabetes took its toll, but mental illness made him disappear. We'd talk on the phone once a year if he answered it and even then we'd mostly jut talk about the Bruins.
He was a great hockey fan and loved playing it too when he could. The Bobby Orr era of the Boston Bruins will long be associated with my brother. We slept out on the sidewalk of Sears a number of times to be the first in line to get Bruins tickets. During the winter, we played hockey on the pond every afternoon.
He raised chickens as a kid. I raised chicken as a kid. He loved hockey. I loved hockey. He was a Cleveland Indians fan long before I was.
He was a better big brother than I was a little brother.
Here's his obit, written by my sister, Cheryl, who was also the best friend he ever had.
Michael Lee Collins, age 63, of Shirley, Massachusetts passed away after many years of declining health on March 9, 2012 at Leominster Health Alliance Hospital. He was born Dec, 3, 1948 in Goffstown , NH and was the son of Fred and Ruth Eileen(McFarland) Collins of West Fitchburg. He was an avid baseball and hockey player and wanted to play football in junior high had he not developed scoliosis. So he maintained an avid fan interest in Boston Bruins hockey and Patriots football all his life. He enjoyed history,bowling, and could not be beaten at Trivial Pursuit, especially if the category was “old movies”. He was quite the fisherman and loved being at Plum Island
While growing up he was a member of the Rollstone 4-H Club and raised chickens and rabbits .He especially enjoyed the Worcester County 4-H activities. His later passion became motorcycles and he was a lifetime member of the Massachusetts British Iron Association . He wrote their newsletter for many years and always signed his articles with the expression “Ride Safe” Once he rode his BMW all the way to the west coast and back.
His work included many years as a linotype operator at Colonial Press in Clinton, MA and was employed at Lockwood Plastics and also Value Pharmacy in West Boylston. He also was a partner in Paul’s CZ Cycle Sales and went to Hallmark School of Photography.
He was predeceased by his father, Fred and a niece, Jennifer.
Besides his mother, Ruth, of Fitchburg he leaves sisters, Cheryl Collins of Stow, Maine and Wendy Collins of Brattleboro, VT, and brothers, William Collins of Princeton and Robert Collins of Woodbury, Minnesota and their families which include nine nieces and nephews .
The family wishes to thank especially his neighbor, Sandy, and his special nurse and friend, Bernadette Oininen of Nashoba Nursing and all others who made it possible to remain independent for so long.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in Mike’s memory to go to either Nashoba Nursing and Hospice, 2 Shaker Rd. Suite D225, Shirley, MA 01464 or Montachusett Home Care, 680 Mechanic Street, Leominster, MA 01453.
Family and friends are encouraged to meet at Bosk Funeral Home ,85 Blossom St. Fitchburg at 10:30 am on Sat, March 17th to follow a motorcycle procession to Forest Hill Cemetery for an 11 am graveside service.
Here are the comments I wrote for his service.