Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jun. 02, 2014 @ 06:30 PM

William N. Collins Jr.

HENDERSON — William N. Collins Jr., a World War II veteran and Vance County native, was laid to rest with full military honors on May 6, 2014, at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in California after losing a long battle with cancer. He passed away April 24, 2014, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto, California, at the age of 95.

During the service, a rifle salute was fired over his flag-draped casket, and as his family stood and saluted or held their hands over their hearts, a member of the U.S. Navy Honor Guard from Lemoore Naval Base played “Taps.” Then American flag was carefully folded and presented to his widow.

Afterwards, a Navy chaplain read Tennyson’s poem “Crossing the Bar” and verses from the Bible, including 1 Corinthians 15:54, which will be engraved on Mr. Collins’ marker.

Collins joined the U.S. Navy in 1940, just one year before the outbreak of WWII. During the war, he took part in the Battle of the Caribbean Sea, helping to maintain a fleet of PBY planes patrolling both the Atlantic and Pacific for Japanese and Italian submarines as well as German U-boats that threatened vital allied shipping lanes, including the Panama Canal. Later he served in various logistics and support squadrons and also in anti-submarine operations throughout the Cold War.

In 1944 while on leave in Washington, D.C., Collins met and married his wife of 68 years, Pauline Hoober, who was a secretary at the Pentagon. The two travelled the world together during Collins’ Navy career, living in such exotic settings as French Morocco and Hawaii. Following his 24 years of service in the Navy, he worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation, where he helped prepare the Viking orbiter, which was launched in 1975 to photograph the surface of Mars.

Collins was born in 1918 in Henderson. The family moved to a tobacco farm about a mile outside of town at the present-day site of Vance Elementary School. His father was the manager of the local Coca-Cola plant, which still stands today as a museum on U.S. 1 Business.

According to his son, Mr. Collins was always proud of his North Carolina roots. “He was a Southern raconteur, often telling us stories about being raised in the South,” Kevin Collins said. “My sister and I heard stories about him visiting his Confederate grandfather every Sunday after church and every Saturday going to downtown Henderson and paying 10 cents to see Tom Mix westerns in the theater, an organ player piping music in front of the screen.” In one account, his father, William Collins Sr., stood up to the Ku Klux Klan by refusing to fire one of his black workers at the Coca-Cola plant.

Collins’ daughter, Charlotte, said, “His life could have come straight out of the pages of a Faulkner novel.” She often visited the Collins farm as a child. “I loved to walk down the long dirt driveway, cross the highway, and select a piece of penny candy at the country store. While sipping on a cold soda bottle, I would watch a couple of ‘grand-daddies’ playing games of checkers,” she said and added that she will never forget the family reunions where fresh fish, hush puppies, cole slaw, homemade biscuits and sweat tea were served.

“He always took great pride in cooking the pig, tending the fire for days,” his wife, Pauline, said.

In later years, Mr. Collins restored two Ford Mustangs and also travelled the world with his wife, seeing much of Asia and Europe. He was especially happy to visit Ireland, from where his great-great-great-grandfather Shemeul Kearney emigrated in the 1700s. He later founded Franklinton. The Kearney home, built in 1759, is the oldest in Franklin County.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Pauline Collins; daughter, Charlotte Collins Neff of Fair Oaks, California; son, Kevin Collins of San Jose, California; two grandchildren, Joshua Neff of Fair Oaks, California, and Kristen Neff Herrington of San Diego, California; and two great-grandchildren, Kordelia and William.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William N. and Roberta Collins, and his six siblings.

 

Clara W. Crider

HENDERSON — Clara Wiebusch Crider, 83, of 65 Morning Glory Lane, died Monday, June 2, 2014, at her home.

Arrangements will be announced by J.M. White Funeral Home.

 

Era C. Ellis

HENDERSON — Era Belle Crawford Ellis, 92, of 505 Powell St., died Sunday, June 1, 2014, at Levine and Dickson Hospice House in Huntersville.

Arrangements will be announced by Davis-Royster Funeral Service.

 

Rux D. Hatcher

HENDERSON — Rux D. Hatcher, 60, of 263 Charles St., died Friday, May 30, 2014, at Maria Parham Medical Center.

A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 5, at Cornerstone Christian Community Church by Bishop J. Phillip Betts. Interment will follow in the Zoar Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery.

Viewing will be Wednesday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Betts & Son Funeral Home.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home, and at other times at 217 Wilmington Ave., Oxford.

Arrangements are by Betts & Son Funeral Home, which accepts online condolences at bettsandsonfuneralhome.com.

 

Jerry W. Owens

OXFORD — Jerry Wayne Owens, 71, died Saturday, May 31, 2014.

A funeral will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at Providence Baptist Church by Dr. Randy Pittman. Burial will follow in the Bowling Family Cemetery with Masonic and military rites.

Visitation is today, June 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Gentry-Newell & Vaughan Funeral Home.

Arrangements are by Gentry-Newell & Vaughan Funeral Home, which accepts online condolences at hallwynne.com.

 

Janet Solomon

HENDERSON — Janet Soloman, 76, died Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Brantwood Nursing and Rehab Center.

Arrangements will be announced by E.C. Terry’s Funeral and Cremation Service.

 

Irene T. Watkins

HENDERSON — Irene Thomas Watkins, 84, formerly of Henderson, died Monday, June 2, 2014, at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland.

Arrangements will be announced by Flowers Funeral Home.