Michael Joseph Collins 1933 - 2020 Michael left this life after 20 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 two 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, and Reilly, plus 32 maternal first cousins. He attended St. Teresa's school until 8th grade. High school and college were at St. Joseph's and 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 in San Anselmo. He had married Barbara and had a daughter, Mary Katharine (Kate) and son, Daniel. Loving variety, he taught Mathematics, French, Work Experience, night school, and coached baseball, eventually becoming an administrator. By the late 1970s, his duties had included a stint in the District Office and an A.P. at Redwood High School. Barbara passed, and a year and half later, he married a colleague, school psychologist Laura Foster. A year later their daughter Althea was born. Realizing that his passion was working with students, he returned to the classroom, occasionally Latin at Tamalpais, but mainly at Redwood H.S. Versatile, he taught English, French, and Social Studies for two decades, but his first love was Latin. He built up Latin to five full classes. Mandatory retirement encouraged him to interview for a position at Bentley School in Oakland, and he accepted it with pleasure three days later. He later taught at Stuart Hall in San Francisco, finishing at Bentley. He was frequently a favorite teacher. In his 40-plus years with Laura, his life and experiences expanded. They traveled as much as possible in the U.S., Europe and the Americas, sometimes with NEH grants or taking students, especially to France and Italy. Music was always a source of joy! He joined and later led a Schola Gregoriana for 40-plus years, sometimes a teaching tool for his Latin students. He sang Barbershop and with the Winifred Baker Chorale (classical). He and Laura also loved jazz and dancing. Eventually he combined music with drama and was in 15-plus productions by the Redwood Players, Novato Players, 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 his brother Frank, his first wife, Barbara, and his 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 this super-spreading ends. Enjoy 80-plus years of photos at his website: forevermissed.com/michaeljcollins/about
Published by Marin Independent Journal on Jan. 3, 2021.