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Obituary: Richard J. Collins, 82, Andover Educator, Coach

Services to be held later this week.

Richard J. Collins, 82. Credit: Conte Funeral Home.
Richard J. Collins, 82. Credit: Conte Funeral Home.

Obituary from the Conte Funeral Home:

Richard J. Collins, 82, of Andover, passed away Thursday, February 20th, at Lawrence General Hospital. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on August 16th, 1931, son of the late Edward F. and Ruth (Pregeant) Collins.

Dick was a graduate of East Providence High School, Phillips Andover Academy, and Dartmouth College. He served in the Marines during the Korean Conflict. 

For more than a half century, Dick devoted his life to his family, friends, students, and athletes. His sagacious wit, creativity, and love of all things educational will be sorely missed, but truly never forgotten. He taught History and Social Studies at Andover High School from 1959 – 1996. He also taught International Relations and World History at Phillips Andover Academy during their summer advanced studies institute. Upon his retirement, Dick served 5 consecutive terms on the Andover School Committee. 

During those thirty-seven years as head coach of football and track he left an indelible legacy for the town of Andover. He guided the football team to numerous championships, including Super Bowl victories in 1974 and 1975. His track teams captured 37 Merrimack Valley titles, and 24 All-State, Class, and New England championships. Collins received many honors during his career, including Andover Teacher of the Year, Eagle Tribune Coach of the Decade, National High School Track Coach of the Year, and was elected to Phillips Andover, Massachusetts, and National Halls of Fame as both athlete and coach. The Andover High School Field House was named in his honor. Dick also taught and coached at Merrimack College in the years following his retirement from Andover schools. 

A true Andover icon, he was a voice of wisdom. He fought valiantly for those who were less fortunate.He taught and coached with an unsurpassed vigor and high level of sportsmanship. He was a humble man, always deflecting praise to his students, his athletes, or his assistants in coaching. He let them know that they would be successful simply if they refused to quit. 

Dick’s faith carried him through many years of illness, demonstrating to all the power of his beliefs and his love for his family. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 25 years, Barbara (Beechner) Ziegenbein Collins of Andover; his children, Carolyn Hemingway and her husband Kent of Tamworth, NH; Richard J. Collins, Jr. and his wife Betsy of Simsbury, CT; Edward F. Collins III of Lowell, MA; Valerie Simeone and her husband David of Henniker, NH; Jacqueline Dufresne of Peabody, MA. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Susan and her husband Nick Flint of Rogers, AR; Laurie and her husband Kevin Brosnan of Andover, Charles and Paula Ziegenbein of Andover, and Cathy and Robert Kea of Southborough, MA. Also among his survivors are his 21 grandchildren, whom he loved dearly and teased incessantly: (Katelyn, Jeffrey and Christopher Keyes, Hannah and Sam Collins, Daniel, Nic and Joseph Simeone, Michelle Thomas and Stefan Dufresne, Alexandra, Madison, and Sophie Flint, Caroline, Amanda, and Sam Brosnan, Charlie B. and Anneliese Ziegenbein, Jake, Hayden, and Ella Kea. Dick was predeceased by his first wife, Pauline Beaumont Collins in 1987, and several nieces and nephews. 

Arrangements: Calling hours at Conte Funeral Home, 28 Florence St. Andover, will be Wednesday, February 26th from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, February 27th at 11 a.m. at South Church in Andover. 

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to The Richard J. Collins Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Essex County Community Charitable Fund, 175 Andover St. Danvers, MA 01923 

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