Wilber Theodore Collins

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Collins, Wilber Theodore

Mr. Wilber Theodore Collins passed away Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at Cayuga Medical Center with loved ones by his side. Wilber was born on February 1, 1925 to the late Theodore and Lucy Drake Collins. Wilber and his late wife, Mary Catherine Armstrong Collins, met while he was employed at her uncle's farm. He later enlisted in the US Army and served in Korea as an Infantry Sergeant. Soon after his return to the United States from his military service, he and Mary Armstrong wed in a small ceremony at the Old United Methodist Church in Lansing, a strong marriage that lasted fifty-eight years until Mary's passing in 2007. He and Mary, his 'sweetheart,' moved into his grandfather's house in 1951 where they spent their lives together. Wilber was employed in various capacities, but his primary interests were in agriculture and farming. His career began as a farmhand on John Armstrong's farm and he eventually retired from the Animal Science department at Cornell University in 1982, after more than thirty-seven years of service to the University. After retiring from Cornell, he kept busy as a car transporter for Avis Car Rental and also worked for a contractor. Wilber greatly enjoyed hunting and fishing in the Adirondack Mountains and Canadian wilderness, keeping a small farm of his own, gardening, playing guitar, and always kept his wit and humor on point. He was a lifetime member of V.F.W. Post 8158 in Dryden, NY, a proud and active member of the North American Big Game Hunting Club, Kushaqua Hunting Club of Onshiota, NY, and the National Rifle Association, and highly valued the lifelong friendships he made in connection to these organizations. Also after his retirement, Wilber helped Mary to provide daycare for many of the local children. Though they never had children of their own, they are fondly remembered by the families and children whose lives they touched over the years. Wilber is survived by his two sisters, Marian Collins McMillan of Lebanon, TN, Margery Collins Yense of Rochester, NY; his late wife's family including Lloyd Armstrong of Newfield, NY, Flora Armstrong of Freeville, NY, Ed Armstrong and Susan Lampila of Spencer, NY, Robert Armstrong of Newfield, NY, Roger Armstrong of Florida; as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins. In addition to his family members, Wilber is also survived by the many children for whom he and Mary provided daycare, including Adam and Darin Buck, Chris, Brian, and Benjamin Bolyard, Kevin, Eric, and Shannon Bush, Hilary Cleveland, Brendan Hammond, Richard and Edward Longo, Taylor MacKenzie, William and Emma Martin, Melissa, Will and Brian Newton, Lisa and Michael Norman, Henry, Claire, Charlotte and Jack Stevens, Josh and John Tagliavento, Jennifer and James Volbrecht, among many, many more. Funeral services will be held at 1:00 PM Saturday, December 31 at the Wagner Funeral Home, located at the Family Service Center Building, 110 S. Geneva St., Ithaca. Rev. Sam Neno will be officiating. Burial with Military Honors will follow in North Lansing Cemetery. Friends may call from 12 - 1:00 PM prior to the service at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the V.F.W. or to the World Wildlife Fund, P.O. Box 97180, Washington, DC 20090-7180.

Published in Ithaca Journal from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2011
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