Vincent J. Collins, Jr., passed away in the loving presence of family on March 15 in Damariscotta, Maine. Vince was born Aug. 13, 1941, in New Haven to Doris Catherine Gillen and Vincent James Collins, Sr., who left to fight in World War II when Vince was a toddler. The oldest of five siblings, Vince was the responsible kind of child assigned by teachers to walk new students home from school. He graduated with the Guilford High School Class of 1959, and was known for humorous antics, such as the time he parked the French teacher’s car on the school stage.
Vince married fellow Guilford graduate Virginia Betts and moved to San Francisco, where he completed his undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley in 1969. The couple moved to Maine in 1971, when Vince was hired as national sales manager with C.B. Cummings dowel mill in Norway, a job he loved. He built a home on Crockett Ridge and raised two children, Meredith and Bennett. Vince ran a successful retail seafood business and was well known in the Oxford Hills community, serving on the MSAD 17 school board for several years.
Vince loved being on the water and woodworking. In 2003, he followed a lifelong dream and enrolled at the Landing School in Arundel to learn wooden boatbuilding. He retired to Unity, Maine, in 2005, and could be consulted with daily at the local coffee shop with a few other sage elders. Vince made friends wherever he lived; in Unity, he befriended local college students, organic farmers, and his helpful Amish neighbors. Vince’s beloved brother Dennis and wife Sarah often visited during the Common Ground Fair where the brothers volunteered at the bean hole station.
In later years, Vince spent much of his time helping his son, wiring his house and assisting with his farm and catering business in Bremen. Vince suffered a major stroke in late 2015 and the following year moved into Hodgdon Green, a small residential home in Damariscotta, where he was welcomed into the special family of residents and staff. He was able to gain back much of his speech, but found physical therapy to be a bit “touchy-feely” for his liking. Highlights of Vince’s last few years included boating with his son and daughter-in-law and local friends, family gatherings at Christmas Cove, and yearly visits from his brother Dennis to watch the alewife run on the Damariscotta River.
Following the isolating COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, Vince welcomed his first grandchild, born Feb. 25, 2021, and named Gillen after Vince’s mother. Vince loved his grandson with all his heart and relished the year he got to spend watching and helping him learn and grow.
Vince loved hot dogs and beans, a cold beer, and a good laugh. He was a kind, supportive, and generous soul. He will be deeply missed by his friends and family.
He is survived by his siblings Dennis Collins, Sharon Tartaris (Bob Tartaris), and Noreen Palumbo (Ralph Palumbo); nieces Carianne Palumbo, Jennifer Sargent, and Nicole Herget; nephews Christopher Palumbo and Brendan and Brady Collins; former wife Virginia Betts and their children Meredith Collins (Jessamyn Schmidt) and Bennett Collins (Christa Thorpe); and grandchild Gillen Collins.
A memorial gathering will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, at the Bremen Town House, 568 Waldoboro Road, Bremen, Maine.