Robert Louis Collins, 91, a longtime resident of Metuchen, died in the early morning of Monday, June 8, at JFK Hospital, Edison. At the time, he was a resident of N.J. Veterans Memorial Home of Menlo Park. He was born in the Bronx on January 12, 1929, to Marie Rose Guibeau and Harry Bruce Collins, and he married his beloved wife Carmen D’Andrea in the Bronx on December 28, 1952.
“Bobby” graduated from DeWitt-Clinton High School at age 17, then sought his mother’s signature to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps near the end of World War II. Between 1946-1948, he qualified as a sharpshooter, participated in amphibious maneuvers in the Caribbean, worked in intelligence on a peacekeeping mission in the Mediterranean, and attained the rank of corporal. Years later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history by taking night courses at Rutgers University while working at McGraw-Hill in Manhattan by day. After 31 years, he retired from McGraw-Hill as vice-president and controller of its real estate and services division.
Bob loved history and constantly read enormous tomes about world leaders and events. He also dug into his personal history by researching his maternal genealogy to the pioneers of Quebec in the early 1600s, and by investigating the 1929 disappearance of his Irish father, about whom he knew little. He wrote a play called “Poor William” about Ben Franklin’s son William, who—unlike his famous father—was a loyalist during the American Revolution. It was performed at the Proprietary House in Perth Amboy, where William lived as the last colonial governor of New Jersey, prior to independence.
An active member of the community, Bob served on the Metuchen Senior Housing Board as well as the board for Recordings for the Blind (now called Learning Ally) in Princeton. He completed free tax returns for senior citizens at the Metuchen Senior Center for more than 15 years, and he volunteered at both JFK Hospital and the veterans home where he later lived. He was a member of the JFK Hospital Auxiliary, Metuchen Seniors Commission, Metuchen Chapter of AARP, and Metuchen-Edison Historical Society. In spite of only being Italian by marriage, he was a member and former treasurer of the Metuchen American Italian Civic League, and each autumn he relished working with its members at the Metuchen Fair.
Robert was predeceased by his wife, Carmen; his son, Paul; his parents; and his siblings Rose Louise (Collins) Kilham and Harry William Collins. He is survived by his daughter Marie Collins of Lambertville and her daughter Dr. Laurel Pellegrino (husband Matt Daniels) of Seattle; daughter-in-law Jean (Johnson) Collins and her children Heather (Johnson) Moore (husband Christopher, son Clayton) and Brian Johnson (wife Shannon, children Carter and Loretta), all of Hightstown; sister Evelyn (Collins) McNamara of Hingham, MA; sister-in-law Rose (D’Andrea) Clancey and niece Michelle Clancey, both of Doylestown, PA; and sister-in-law Lee (Sbisa) Collins of Hammond, LA.
Funeral arrangements are private. In lieu of flowers and in recognition of his love of history, donations may be made in his name to the Metuchen-Edison Historical Society by mail (P.O. Box 61, Metuchen, NJ 08840) or by way of the society’s website (http://www.metuchen-edisonhistsoc.org).