By Sherrie Norris
The unexpected death of community leader Randy Collins on Thursday August 30, has deeply impacted Watauga County as a whole, as well as countless individuals across the state and beyond. A husband, son, brother, uncle, friend, colleague, teacher and mentor to many, Collins lived a life that will be long remembered, his influence felt in a number of ways and places, including the classroom, emergency services and sports arenas, just to name a few.
Hundreds of mourners are expected to gather in Boone beginning Wednesday evening for the two-day time of visitation and celebration of life services; a procession plan is shared below for those wishing to participate or view from the sidelines in honor of Collins, his family, friends and associates.
A life that mattered
Since news of Collins’ untimely death began to circulate, hundreds of messages have appeared on social media sites, confirming what most already knew: the life of Randy Collins was not lived in vain.
“Randy was a father figure, a patient guardian and a loving, caring chief,” shared Todd Quartier an alumni of App State’s Healthcare Administration/ Management Program and former Watauga County EMT who now serves as Regional Operations Manager at Sound Physicians, (a leading healthcare organization) and as Operations Analyst at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta. “He looked out for, checked up on and protected me through three tough, fast-paced years. He loved us and we loved him. We’ll miss him dearly. Randy was truly an amazing, selfless teacher. He’ll live on for generations to come through the lessons he taught so many of us.”
From Jacob Houck in Boone, firefighter/paramedic at Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue: “I never quite knew how often my path crossed with Randy Collins, until now. From PE, from kindergarten until 8th grade, a semester spent helping him teach PE as a senior in high school, and eventually working alongside of him on hundreds of calls in my EMS career. He was a great man, teacher, and friend who has helped me grow and become stronger, both as a medic and as a person. He gave me confidence, but kept me humble and focused. Reminding me to slow down and get all of the cows instead of hurry and get one cow (old bull story). He will be greatly missed in the community and with his family of first responders, medics, firemen, law enforcement and dispatchers. Thank you for your service, Randy.”
And from, Jane Priddy Charleville, former mayor for the town of Danbury, Stokes County High graduate and ASU Alum: “Such a sad, sad time. It’s so hard to see folks and friends leave this earth when they were some of the ones who helped make this world a better place to live . . . Let Randy’s life remind us all, especially to our young people, how volunteers in our communities — and a life of serving others — are truly the heartbeat of what makes a community such a wonderful, safe, fun and caring place to live. All of our communities need more people like Randy and the Collins family. Stokes County and Watauga County are very, very blessed to have had them in our communities. May God Bless this family!!”
These messages, and so many others, truly match the heartbeat of the High Country community as we mourn the loss of this multitalented, highly skilled and deeply loved and admired individual.
Husband, son, brother, uncle, friend and so much more
According to his obituary, James Randall “Randy” Collins was born July 14, 1957 in Surry County, a son of Jim Collins and the late Sara Schuyler Collins. Collins was a great athlete who lettered in football, baseball and basketball at North Stokes High School, named all-conference in multiple sports. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education/Fitness at Appalachian State University and with a master’s in the same field at Gardner-Webb University. Randy was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.
Collins later retired from teaching and touching many children’s lives at North Stokes High School, C.B. Eller Elementary, and more recently, at Green Valley Elementary School in Watauga County in 2010.
He was an elder in the Fransisco Presbyterian Church and a member of Fransisco Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as chief and was twice named Rescue Person of the Year, before moving to Watauga county.
While in Boone, he served as chief of Watauga County Rescue for 26 years. He was also an emergency medical technician, emergency vehicle operations course instructor and a North Carolina EMT examiner.
Collins also served on the ASU Yosef Advisory Board, was the official scorekeeper for ASU men’s basketball, and was in charge of first aid game-day operations for the university’s football team. He most recently volunteered for the Folds of Honor Golf Marathon at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant, SC, and was volunteering at the Peter Pedroni Memorial Golf Tournament at the time of his death.
Having lived a life of service, Collins had two hobbies he loved: the first one was saving lives through Watauga Rescue and Watauga Medics. His second was as a college baseball umpire, during which he was either behind the plate or on the bases in the Big South, Southern, South Atlantic, and Carolina conferences. His smile got even larger when “he was called up” to umpire for the Hickory Crawdads and the Asheville Tourist baseball teams.
Collins is survived by his wife of 27 years, Jeannine Underdown Collins and his beloved Bella, his father, Jim Collins, his brother, Greg Collins, and wife, Susan Hathcock, and nephew, Will Collins of Fransisco, (Stokes County) and many special friends.
The Collins family will receive friends from 6:00 pm – 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5 at Hampton Funeral Service in Boone.
There will be a Celebration of Life at Boone United Methodist Church at 11:00 am on Thursday, September 6, with a gathering of friends to follow at the Appalachian State University Baseball Field, rain or shine as there is cover, if needed.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Randy Collins Athletic Training Scholarship – Yosef Club, c/o the ASU Foundation, P.O. Box 32064, Boone, NC 28608 or Watauga County Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 3394, Boone, NC 28607.
Online condolences may be sent to the Collins family at www.hamptonfuneralnc.com
Hampton Funeral and Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.
Funeral Procession Details for Randy Collins
For those wishing to participate in the funeral procession for Randy Collins, or observe in honor from the sidelines, before and/or after the Celebration of Life at Boone United Methodist Church at 11 a.m. on Thursday Sept. 6, procession details are as follows:
Procession from Hampton’s funeral Home to Boone UMC:
The procession from Hampton’s Funeral Home will leave the funeral home for Boone UMC at 9:40 a.m. The procession order will be Watauga Rescue Ambulance, Watauga Medics ambulance, hearse, family, then all other public safety apparatus. The first two ambulances will meet in the parking lot of Hampton’s, while the remaining vehicles will stage in the Horn in the West parking lot until the procession is ready to begin. The procession route is outlined below;
- From Hampton’s Funeral Home, travel down the hill toward 321, making a right onto 321 toward Daniel Boone Inn, turn right onto E King Street, a left onto 194 N. at Hardee’s. Turn left onto New Market Blvd. to Boone UMC on the right.
- Upon arrival, the first two ambulances, the hearse, and the family vehicles will pull into the Boone UMC parking lot. All other public safety vehicles will park in the middle turn lane on New Market Blvd. The emergency vehicles will remain parked in the turn lane throughout the duration of the service.
- Last Call: At the conclusion of the funeral service, Last Call will be broadcast over Watauga Rescue radio frequency.
- Procession from Boone UMC to Appalachian State University Baseball Field: All family and public safety personnel will proceed to their vehicles. The Watauga Rescue and Watauga Medics ambulance will lead the family vehicles out of the parking lot and all other public safety vehicles will fall into line. The procession will proceed to the ASU baseball field along the following route; head southwest on new Market Blvd. Turn right onto E King St. toward downtown Boone. Turn left onto Hardin St / 321 at Daniel Boone Inn, traveling down Hardin St. / 321, turn right onto Rivers St. at the ASU Convocation Center. Travel Rivers St., turning left at Bodenheimer Dr. to baseball field parking lot.
Participating agencies are asked to limit participation to one apparatus.
Meet time for the processions will be no later than 9:15am at the Horn in the West parking lot.
Additional questions may be directed to Alec Jacobsson at [email protected] .