Obituary of John E. Collins
John E. Collins, Esq. of Willingboro, NJ passed away peacefully on August 18, 2023, at the Masonic Village in Burlington, NJ. He was 77 years old.
John is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Dorothy (nee Allison); sister, Dr. Susan Collins; adopted children, Fara; Michael (Vicki) and Mark; grandchildren, John Michael; Dustin and Travis; brother-in-law, Robert Allison (Gwen Blount); sister-in-law, Betty Webb; niece, Gina Holden and numerous cousins including Stephen Collins; Doris Ellen Penman and Nancy Paulis.
John was born on June 27, 1946, in Bristol, Pennsylvania to Thomas and Marjorie (nee Lakness) Collins. His early years were spent in NJ before his family relocated to Manhattan where John attended preschool at Columbia while his father attended the University. His passion for playing and watching baseball developed during the family's time in East Northport. There John was also on the undefeated Northport Junior High Basketball team. John graduated from West Hempstead High School in 1964 where he was a trombonist, baseball player, honor student and gold service medal recipient.
After graduating from West Hempstead High School on Long Island, New York, John went to Hamilton College in upstate New York, where his focuses were history and urban studies. He was a member of the varsity baseball team and Delta Upsilon Fraternity, graduating with honors in 1968. As a faithful alumnus, in 2018 he proudly attended the 50th Reunion for the Class of 1968.
John joined VISTA, the Volunteers in Service to America, which served as an alternative to military enlistment. He was posted to Nashville, Tennessee, working out of the Bethlehem Center. John and Dorothy met in 1968 in Nashville and immediately connected as Dorothy was working for the Metro Action Commission while attending college.
John and Dorothy married in June of 1970. John was accepted to Cornell University and University of Chicago Law Schools but found a new program at Montclair State University preparing young college graduates to teach urban students. This ultimately led him and Dorothy to Mount Holly, New Jersey where John taught at the Brainerd School for four years.
In 1974 the family relocated to Willingboro, New Jersey. John still hadn't given up on Law School, and while working for the Bureau of Children Services he started attending Temple University Law School at night. He graduated in 1977 and began a long career in law. He was Counsel for the NJ School Boards Association and the NJEA and was Municipal Prosecutor for Willingboro Township for 28 years. In addition to having hisown practice, John worked at Selikoff & Cohen, and Parker-McCay law firms, focusing on municipal, and school law.
Outside of his professional legal work, he was an integral part of Democratic politics in Willingboro and served for almost four decades as a pro bono legal advisor for the Willingboro Democratic Committee (WDC), Willingboro Democratic Club, as well as the Burlington County Democratic Committee (BCDC). For four decades John was the Democratic Committeeman in Willingboro’s 34th District 34, first serving with his dear friend and neighbor Committeewoman Freddie George and later serving alongside his wife Dorothy. As part of a get-out-the-vote campaign John knocked on every door in the 34th district. On top of all this John also served on the Willingboro Library and ZoningBoards.
Because of his love for history, John joined the Burlington County Historical Society. His appreciation of history was so deep that he and Dorothy’s favorite travel memories were the eight summers they traveled the Underground Railroad Trail from Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic to Burlington, NJ, up through all the New England states and on to Windsor, Canada… ending each trip at Saratoga Springs, New York.
John’s greatest love was BASEBALL! John spent years as a coach for the Willingboro Babe Ruth League team for 13-14-year-old boys. He later got to live out his dream of coaching a college baseball team, serving as the assistant coach for Burlington County College. John was a lifetime player, pitching and playing 2nd base for the NJ Wonder Boys team in Willingboro. Throughout his life he played on the 40+, 50+, 60+ and 70+ men’s teams.
While the Township Council was focused on revitalizing the Rt. 130 Corridor and building the Willingboro Town Center, John lobbied the Council to upgrade the Wonder Boys’ home field next to the JFK Center and proudly kept an eye on the condition of all other baseball fields in town. As the Wonder Boys were part of the national Roy Hobbs Baseball League, he would travel to Ft. Myers, Florida for their annual gatherings and proudly displayed his Forever Young Atlantic Champion 2018 trophy from the Roy Hobbs League! John played for the NJ Wonderboy’s over-70 team until his Alzheimer’s disease incapacitated his play in 2019.
John was the calm, steady voice of reason in all things Willingboro, and the loss of his wit, energy, loyalty, friendship, and devotion to what is right and just leaves a gaping hole in the soul of this town.
Funeral services will be held on Monday, August 28, 2023, 11am at the Delaware Valley Baptist Church 493 Beverly Rancocas Road Willingboro, NJ. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing 10:00 am - 11:00 am at the church. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or Cure Alzheimer's Fund in his memory.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Collins, please visit Tribute Store