Francis A. Collins

March 8, 2023

Our father Francis Albert Collins passed away on March 8th, 2023, at the age of 94.

Born in Norwich, Norfolk, England, he was the eldest of five siblings to his mother and father, Gladys and Francis.

His teenage years were lived during the Second World War, during which time he volunteered in the home guard fire service. At the age of seventeen he chose to serve his UK National Service with the RAF and it was here, his love of aircraft was cemented. The spitfire was a special favorite, although a fear of heights meant he much preferred to fix them than fly in them!! He chose to stay with the RAF as an Aircraft Engineer and traveled overseas to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) which he both loved and excelled at. He regaled us with many colourful stories throughout our childhood with wonderful animation that would always bring his history to life.

At the age of twenty-eight he returned home and found a job working near London as a draughtsman, which began his long and successful career in engineering design, his most notable projects were working on the DeLorean Car, Concord, Millennium Falcon famous in Star Wars, Oil Rigs, TSR2 and Airbus. In 1957 he met our mother, June Marian Whatley, at a wedding and after a short courtship they married on the 21st of December, and went on to have five children: Eric Francis Collins, David Phillip Collins(deceased), Alan Rex Collins, Nicola Marian Collins, Douglas John Collins, four of which survive today. Sadly, June died in 1998 after 41 happy years of marriage which left him devastated. He would take flowers to her grave daily; this was a very sad time.

2001, saw him take a trip to his son’s wedding in Montreal, Canada and it was for a second time he found true love at a wedding!! He was introduced to Jean (Genevaite) Rozalia Matulis Fitzgerald, aunt to the bride no less!! For the next two years he courted Jean long distance and finally he emigrated, and Jean and Frank were married in 2003, having had eighteen wonderful years together before Jean sadly died of cancer in 2021. He was very proud to become the stepfather to her four children: Jean Fitzgerald Weiner, M.D. (Bill), The Honorable Lois Fitzgerald Downey (Mike), Captain William A. Fitzgerald, Retired, (Ann) and Sean S. Fitzgerald, MBA (Claire) who adopted him into their family and loved him dearly. They took him and Jean on many family trips to Italy, BVI and Florida to name a few. They both enjoyed education and attended many university politics and history courses together.

He leaves behind a large family where he was loved as a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and lived a very long and full life. He was funny, determined, very clever and generally a happy and content chap. We will all miss him very much.