STREETSBORO - On Nov. 29, 2012 Denver Collins, Jr. left our world for the loving embrace of his wife, Mary and the contagious laughter of his daughter, Karen. |
Denver began his journey through life on Oct. 2, 1932 as the beloved son of Denver and Blanche Collins Sr. in Akron, Ohio. Other than a brief period when he was quite young and during his service in the military, he made his home in the Akron area.
Denver graduated from Stow High School with the class of 1950. It was at Stow that he met the girl that would grow to become his partner in life, the former Mary Hanson.
He began his career in construction while still in grade school by accompanying his father to work at the M.B. Guran Company in Akron. By the time Denver was in high school, he was a skilled heavy equipment operator. Using those skills for many different contractors on such projects as the Ohio Turnpike, the Central Interchange in Akron, and the Route 8 bridge over the Little Cuyahoga river, he earned the tuition to attend first Kent State and then to graduate from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in March of 1956. Also while at Ohio State he showed his true genius when he married the high school sweetheart that would walk with him every step of the way for the next fifty-seven and one half years, Mary Hanson Collins, in January of 1955. After graduating from Ohio State, Denver was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Combat Engineers. While in the army, he and Mary began the family that was the true focus of their lives.
Denver returned from the service and immediately began working for Marshal C. Rardin & Sons, Inc. He, and those he worked with, were able to grow the company from a small subcontractor into a heavy highway construction company that built over sixty miles of new highway, primarily in Summit and Stark counties.
Among the honors that Denver was most proud of, was being selected by his peers to lead first the Ohio Contractors Association in Ohio and later the American Road and Transportation Builders Association at the national level as they advocated building and maintaining the state and nations infrastructure. The friendships Denver forged in the construction industry were among his most cherished. He believed that his life was proof that anyone in America who was willing to put forth the effort could rise as far as their dreams allowed. Most of his friends had similar biographies that reinforced this faith.
Denver never forgot the struggles of his parents and their family as they fought their way through the great depression. Those memories are part of the reason he felt privileged to have served on the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Operating Engineers Pension Fund. The fact that he and the other trustees have been able to keep the pension fund among the few in the country that was fully funded through many economic cycles including the most recent he felt was one of his greatest accomplishments. He was very proud of the security it gave the employees and their families.
Denver was predeceased by his mother and father, Blanche and Denver; his sister, Daisy; his wife, Mary and his daughter Karen. He leaves to cherish his memory his aunt, Irene Hilliard of Cuyahoga Falls; his sisters, Blanche (John) Gretsinger of Stow, and Arvella Patterson of Stow; his son, Denver (Chris) Collins of Hudson; his daughter, Sharen (Lanny) Nowak of Navarsota, Texas; his son-in-law, David (Susan) O'Neal of Waterbury Center, Vermont;, grandchildren, Mary, Denver, John, and Thomas Collins and Katie Nowak; along with many nieces and nephews.
Pastor Roland Coffey will conduct graveside services Wednesday, December 5th at 11 a.m. at Rose Hill Burial Park. PLEASE MEET AND FORM PROCESSION AT REDMON FUNERAL HOME AT 10 a.m. Friends are invited to Redmon Funeral Home for visitation Friday, December 7th from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Denver Collins, Jr. Scholarship Fund, # 601387, Ohio State University, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2070 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1275.
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Dec. 4, 2012