Michael J. Collins
1933 - 2020
Michael left this life after twenty months' decline at Marin Terrace memory care. Walking and talking Friday afternoon, he began his final descent that evening and passed two evenings later with characteristic poise and dignity. The family was honored to be present, sharing his love. A sense of peace and even joy persist to us now.
Michael was born in Staten Island to Michael and Margaret Mary (Peg) Walsh Collins. His brother Frank was born 2 years later, and with their mother, they moved to Bantry, Cork, Ireland for a year, hometown to both parents. They returned to Staten Island and a year later took the long train journey to San Francisco to join several maternal siblings who had immigrated earlier - Walsh, Ward, Reilly plus 32 maternal first cousins. He attended St. Teresa's school until 8th grade. High school and college were at St. Joseph's/ St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park. Finally realizing he had a choice whether to become a priest, he opted out and earned a teaching credential.
A "natural", he loved teaching for all 53 years! He began at Everett Middle School, and after several years accepted an English and Latin assignment at Sir Francis Drake High School. He had married Barbara and had a daughter Kate and son Daniel. Loving variety, he taught several subjects, and eventually become an administrator for 7 years. Barbara passed, and a year and half later, he married a colleague, school psychologist Laura Foster. Their daughter Althea was born a year later. Realizing his passion was working with students, he returned to the classroom at Redwood High School. He taught a variety of subjects for two decades, but his first love was Latin which he built up to 5 full classes.
Mandatory retirement encouraged him to interview for a position at Bentley School in Oakland, and he accepted it with pleasure 3 days later. He later taught at Stuart Hall and finished at Bentley. Often a favorite teacher.
In his 40+ years with Laura, his experiences expanded. They traveled as much as possible in the US, Europe and the Americas.
Music was always a source of joy to him! He joined and later led a Schola Gregoriana for 40+ years. Barbershop and a classical chorus expanded his knowledge. He and Laura also loved jazz and dancing. He combined music with drama by performing in 15+ local productions including the Mountain Theater and the Revels. He kept fit with tennis. His final trip with Laura was an upscale hike on the Camino de Santiago where he characteristically checked out church acoustics by chanting "Ave Maria".
Predeceased by brother Frank, first wife Barbara and son Daniel.
Survived by his daughter Kate (Kevin) Gallagher, his wife Laura, their daughter Althea (Chad) Thigpen and children Camille and Bryce. A friend of Bill W.
A mass with Gregorian chant will be held followed by an Irish wake when super-spreading ends. Enjoy 80+ years of photos at forevermissed.com/michaeljcollins/about