Paul Everett Collins, 95, died Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, at Brookview Manor in Brookings.
Funeral services are at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Ascension Lutheran Church in Brookings. Burial is at First Lutheran Cemetery in Brookings. Visitation is from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday at Eidsness Funeral Home in Brookings. Memorials may be directed to Ascension Lutheran Church or to the Collins Scholarship in HFLP administered by the SDSU Foundation.
Paul was born on Feb. 22, 1917, on a farm near White Rock, Minn., to Eric and Mary (Wiberg) Collins. He attended Goodhue County rural school through the eighth grade and graduated from Cannon Falls High School in 1934. He was captain of the football team and Senior Class president in 1933-1934. He received American Legion medals for leadership and scholastic achievement. He graduated magna cum laude in 1939 from Gustavus Adolphus College with educational degrees in history, social science, and chemistry. He taught high school at Bigfork, Minn. in 1940.
Paul enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in 1941 and graduated from photo school. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in December 1941. He served at Salt Lake City Air Force Base, Geiger Field (Spokane), Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (Tucson), Alamogordo (NM) Air Field, Ephrata (WA) Army Air Base, and Great Falls Air Force Base. He was deployed to North Africa with the Second Bomb Group in April 1943 as group photo officer. He later served in Foggia, Italy until the end of the war. He was awarded the Air and Bronze Star Medals. He returned to the States in September 1945 and separated from the Air Corps in January 1946. He stayed in the Air Force Reserve until 1972, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
In 1946, Paul returned to college at the University of Minnesota and studied forestry, earning a BS degree in 1948, MS in 1949, and Ph.D. in 1967. He worked at Kansas State University as an Extension forester from 1949-1951. He moved to Brookings in 1951 and joined the faculty of the Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks Department at South Dakota State University. He taught and conducted research in forestry until retiring in 1983 with emeritus status.
Paul married Mildred (Mickey) Johnson on Sept. 4, 1948. They were married for 48 years until Mickey’s death in 1997.
Paul was a charter member of Ascension Lutheran Church and served as its first president from 1962-1966.. He enjoyed singing and was a choir member until age 90. He was also a soloist and sang in a men’s quartet at the church.
Paul was a member of the Brookings Lions Club for 55 years, serving as its president in 1965-1966, leading the club in singing until age 93. He was also a member of Sigma Xi scientific research society and Gamma Sigma Delta (honor society of agriculture). In addition, he remained active as a volunteer driver for the Brookings Volunteer Service Bank and Meals on Wheels, logging more than 500 service hours and more than 25 years.
Paul was an avid early morning long distance walker. He enjoyed photography, gardening, and crossword puzzles. Until late in life, he took pride in maintaining an impeccable lawn. He loved history. His children struggled to keep him in stock with fresh history books. He and Mickey liked to travel, especially to Civil War sites, and in the process managed to visit every state except Hawaii.
He is survived by his children Patricia Collins (Dan Cherryhomes) of Minneapolis and Michael (Isabel) Collins of Elm Grove, Wis.
He was preceded in death by his wife Mickey, and two sisters, Mildred and Ethel Collins.