FITCHBURG -- Frederick A. Collins Jr., 84, of 445 Ashburnham St., died Friday, Feb. 20, at the Highlands Long Term Care Center, of a stroke.
Fred was born April 6, 1919, in Ashtabula, Ohio, the son of Frederick A. and Freda L. Collins. He graduated from Ashtabula High School in 1938 and joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Devens when he met Ruth E. McFarland of Fitchburg, who he married on June 14, 1942 and with whom he shared his life until his death.
After serving with the Second Evacuation Hospital in the U.S. Army European Theater of Operations during World War II, Fred returned to the United States, settled in Fitchburg with his wife and began a successful career as a salesman, first working for C.A. Cross & Company of Fitchburg, a grocery distributor. He became a part owner of the Super Duper grocery store in Medfield until 1962, when he joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States as an agent. He was named a member of Equitable’s Hall of Fame.
But to hundreds of Fitchburg factory workers, he was best known as the man who often personally paid their life insurance premiums when factory strikes put them out of work and out of money.
After retiring in 1981, he began his second career as “Farmer Fred,” proudly raising and selling vegetables and produce from a roadside stand at his home. He also enjoyed fishing and woodworking, although he admitted to not being particularly adept at either.
He was a deacon of Rollstone Congregational Church and former president of the Worcester Couty 4-H Advisory Council.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth Eileen (McFarland); five children, Michael L. Collins of Shirley, Cheryl E. Collins and her husband William Bain of Waterville, Maine, Wendy S. Collins of Brattleboro, Vt., William B. Collins and his wife Felice of Princeton, and Robert B. and his wife Carolie of St. Paul, Minn.; 10 grandchildren, Benjamin Stickney, Sara Stickney, Jennifer Collins, William Collins, Jr., Daniel Collins, Erik Collins, Helen Suntag, Isaac Suntag, Sean Collins and Patrick Collins; and his sister, Barbara Carlson and her husband, Ernest, of Ohio.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Jack, and his mother-in-law, Helen McFarland.
COLLINS -- On Friday, Frederick A. Collins, Jr., 84, of 445 Ashburnham St., on Friday. A burial service will be scheduled at a later time. The family will receive visitors at their home at 445 Ashburnham St. today from 2 to 4 p.m.