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Dr. William COLLINS

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Dr. William COLLINS Obituary

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COLLINS, Dr. William DR. BILL COLLINS Dr. William Coppedge "Bill" Collins, 75, died peacefully at his Sandy Springs home, Rivermist, on February 25, 2013, of complications from pneumonia. To the very end, Dr. Collins lived a life full of learning, laughter and love. Bill, or "Billy" as he was originally known, was born in his family home on July 24, 1937 (a Leo if ever there was one) in Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia, to Annie Joy and George Reece Collins. The youngest of four children, young Billy revered his older siblings, Ralph, Jeanette ("Sister"), and Charles, and they returned that love by doting on their much younger sibling. Billy learned hard work and the ability to cook a mean hamburger from his father, a restaurateur, and he obtained the joy of learning from his beloved mother, a schoolteacher. Growing up in the '40s and '50s in Forsyth, Billy had the run of his small Southern town, and he always said, tongue in cheek, that he felt sorry for anyone who was from somewhere else. Billy was a proud member of Boy Scout Troop 51 in Forsyth, in which he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Dr. Collins began his long journey of education at Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, where he was the Valedictorian of the Class of 1955, Editor of the school paper, co-captain and Most Outstanding Lineman of the football team, and star of many a singing and dramatic performance. He showed his writing and speaking talents early as the winner of the Georgia Boys Essay Competition and winner of the Georgia Boys Declamation Competition in 1955. His leadership abilities also emerged in high school, as he became State President of the Georgia Beta Club at the state convention in Atlanta. More importantly, however, it was at that state convention where he first met Jan Williams, who would turn out to be the love of his life, but they just didn't know it at the time. As a result of his intellect and high school achievement, Bill was awarded the first General Motors Scholarship, which allowed him to begin his other love affair - with the University of Georgia. For Bill, Athens and UGA was like the briarpatch for Brer Rabbit - he thrived. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and was selected for Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Gridiron, Blue Key Society, and Who's Who of American Colleges and Universities. He was also elected President of his Sophomore and Junior classes at UGA. He graduated with a B.S. degree in 1959, while jointly enrolled at the Medical College of Georgia. His greatest achievement as a UGA student was winning the heart of Jan, the lovely Zeta and Georgia Redcoat Band majorette. After a couple of years of dating they married in Atlanta, Georgia on August 1, 1959. From that point forward, Bill's achievements would not be his alone, but that of the formidable team of Bill and Jan. Bill attended the Medical College of Georgia and became a proud graduate of that school in 1962, obtaining his medical doctorate degree. At MCG, he was president of his medical fraternity, Phi Rho Sigma, and a member of Alpha Omega Alpha. Following medical school, he completed his training with an internship at Floyd Hospital in Rome, Georgia (1962-3), military service in the United States Air Force, 1360th USAF Hospital (1963-5), orthopedic residency at Georgia Baptist and Scottish Rite hospitals, and a hand surgery fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Collins opened his orthopedic practice, Northside Orthopedic Clinic, in Sandy Springs in 1970, becoming one of the first orthopedists in Sandy Springs and at Northside Hospital and becoming board certified in 1972. He devoted the rest of his career to his patients, orthopedics and the medical profession in general. He loved his staff and patients, and they loved him, but he was not content to limit himself to just his daily medical practice. Instead, he poured himself into medical leadership, and his accomplishments and positions in the profession are too numerous to list in their entirety, but those of which he was most proud include: Medical Association of Georgia, President; Medical Association of Atlanta, Chairman; Academy of Medicine Restoration Committee, Co-chairman; American Medical Association, Delegate; Northside Hospital, Executive Committee; Atlanta Outpatient Surgery Center, Chief of Staff; Michael Hoke Society, president and Founder; Georgia Orthopedic Society, President; Southern Orthopedic Association, President and co-founder; Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation, President; and Medical College of Georgia Alumni Association, President. After practicing medicine for several years, Dr. Collins also discovered he had an interest in business, and was heavily involved in the formation and growth of MAG Mutual Insurance Company, which is now one of the largest medical professional liability insurers in the country. He served for many years on the MAG Mutual board of directors, retiring from his position only a couple of years ago, made many lifelong friends there, and was very proud of what the company had become. In fact, it was his involvement on the finance committee at MAG Mutual that led him to continue his lifetime of learning by obtaining his MBA from Kennesaw State in 1998, at the age of 61, where he was voted the Most Outstanding Student of the MBA-for-physicians program. Bill had many hobbies and passions in life, all of which he pursued with his usual vigor. He and Jan loved to travel, and Bill led his family to 49 states, including Alaska, in a motorhome over the course of 8 summers. The camper couldn't float, so he flew everyone to Hawaii to pick up the elusive 50th state. Bill set foot on six continents, and we're sure Antarctica was on his list, but he simply ran out of time. When Bill's health limited his travels, he and Jan built their dream log home on beautiful Lake Rabun, so that friends and family could come to them, which they did in droves, as best exemplified by a memorable 50th wedding anniversary at the house attended by 300 people. Georgia Bulldog football was another passion that Dr. Collins enjoyed with his friends and family, earning him the moniker "Big Dawg" by his son's buddies. Attending the famous 1980 Georgia-Florida game and the subsequent National Championship victory in the Sugar Bowl were highlights of the multitude of games he saw, and he continued to attend and enjoy games through this last season, including the SEC Championship game. Above all else, Dr. Collins treasured family, and he is survived by Jan Williams Collins, his wife of 53 years, and their children and children-in-law, to whom he was a loving and involved father: Courtenay Collins (Michael) Eckardt and William "Chip" (Gigi) Collins, Jr. He was also blessed to leave a legacy of six grandchildren who all adored him: William Coppedge "Liam" Collins, III; Collins Wilburn Vise; Aidan McLarty Collins; Benjamin Spencer Vise; Henry Bernard Collins; and Grace Olivia Collins. Bill loved dogs, and his Boston Terrier, Roxie, was his loyal companion in his later years. Services will be held on Thursday, February 28, 2013, beginning at 3:00 p.m., at Northside Drive United Methodist Church, with a graveside service at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs immediately thereafter. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Sandy Springs Society Foundation, the Medical College of Georgia Foundation or the Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Feb. 27, 2013
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