John V. Collins, Jr., 86, of 53 Vladish Ave passed away Friday August 21, 2020 after a two year battle with colon cancer. John graduated from Washington High School in Washington, NJ in 1950. He studied education at East Stroudsburg State Teachers College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1954. He earned his Masters Degree in Education from Rutgers University in 1956. He had a career as a School Principal at the Central School of Independence Township in Great Meadows, NJ from 1956-63; the Mansfield Township School in NJ from 1963-66; the Franconia Elementary School in Souderton, NJ from 1966-67; the Winslow Township Elementary School in NJ from 1967-71; and Hillcrest Elementary School in Turners Falls, MA from 1971 until his retirement in 1993. John also served as District Director of Chapter I Title I for the Gill-Montague Regional School District.
John organized and coached the Oxford Lions/Oxford Textile Men's Semi Pro Basketball Team in the 1950s and early 60s that traveled all over NJ and PA, playing over 40 games a season. He even got the guys together every year from 2001-2015 for a Reunion Banquet.
John loved to travel with his family, making it to all 50 states during his lifetime and ended up making New England his home. Once he experienced New England sports he immediately fell in love with the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and especially the Celtics and UMass Basketball. He was a ticket season holder to the Patriots for 25 years, UMass basketball for 26 years and attended hundreds of Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox games. In the 80s, John was the Larry Bird of Turners Falls, dressing up in his gear and watching all the games in his Mantown called "Garden II". He even travelled to French Lick, IN where Larry Bird lived. In the 90s, John and his wife, Dotty, were awarded the Milt Cole Award for Dedication to the UMass Basketball program, as they traveled to all the home and away games for many seasons after he retired. John was able to attend Super Bowl XX, NBA Championships in the 70s and 80s, the Final Four in 1996 and received an Atlantic 10 Championship Ring from UMass Basketball.
In Turners Falls, it seems the locals give everyone a nickname. John earned his first nickname from his faculty friends after making them laugh with stories of the East Stroudsburg College Football Coach Eugene H. Martin, affectionately known as "The Puffer". Later on, John earned a second nickname, this time it was "Joe" as he impersonated the character from The Three Stooges all the time, this was crowned by his son Lew's friends. John might be the only guy to receive the honor of having two nicknames in the small community of Turners Falls.
John will be missed by all his family and friends that had a chance to get to know him over the years. He did so much for the education of our community which shows in his legacy that he left Chapter I Title I program for the Gill-Montague Regional School District.
John leaves his wife, Dotty Collins of Turners Falls; six children, Donna Reppucci and husband George of Tyngsboro, MA; John Collins, III of New York, NY; Beverly Dunlap and husband Rockland of Kodak, TN; Karen Mattei and husband Bob of Davenport, FL; Brenda Collins of Montague; and Lewis Collins of Turners Falls. He also leaves several grandchildren and great grandchildren and nephews from New Jersey.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday 8/26 at 11am at the Kostanski Funeral Home, 1 Kostanski Square, Turners Falls. Burial will follow at Springdale Cemetery in Turners Falls.
Calling hours will be held Tuesday evening from 4-7pm at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to Pioneer Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, 329 Conway Street, Greenfield, MA 01301.
For condolences, please visit www.kostanskifuenralhome.com.
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