Charlotte M. Collins ’41 (CLAS)

Charlotte M. Collins, 102, died Friday, October 22, 2021 at McLean in Simsbury, CT. She was born in Middlebury, CT on May 29, 1919 to Allen and Emma (Shepardson) Cook. As a girl Charlotte and her sisters often visited Connecticut state parks and forests with their father and they became skilled at wildflower identification. She was active in Girl Scouting, earning its highest award, the Golden Eaglet. Charlotte majored in Home Economics at the University of Connecticut (Class of 1941) and belonged to the Phi Beta Pi sorority. At a local Grange meeting during her freshman year, she met Walter Collins, a Poultry Husbandry student. Charlotte taught at Plainville (CT) High School during the early years of World War II where she also registered people for Civil Defense duties and ration coupons.

She and Walt married on June 7, 1943 during his weekend leave from the Army in a ceremony performed by her brother Frederick. Following the war they moved to Durham, NH when Walt joined the faculty of the University of New Hampshire College of Agriculture. Charlotte and Walt lived in Durham for over 50 years. They had four children who participated in local scouts, athletic teams, church choirs, and youth groups. The family enjoyed hiking in the White Mountains, camping, and traveling to many parts of the U.S. Charlotte and Walt made a special effort to welcome UNH graduate students from other countries to join the family for meals, games, and hikes to share the natural beauty of New Hampshire’s mountains and seashore.

Charlotte was dedicated to enhancing community life in Durham. She was particularly active in the Women’s Guild at the Durham Community Church, helping to start the multi-church Christmas Fair Day that became a long-standing town tradition. She served as a troop leader and Wider Opportunity selection committee member for the Swiftwater Girl Scout Council and took on leadership roles within Durham’s transportation, parks and recreation, and housing programs. Charlotte and Walt developed many long-lasting friendships in Durham, most especially their “Supper Club” who met regularly for decades. In the 1970s they built a cabin (“The Barn”) in Grantham, NH, where children, grandchildren, and friends spent treasured time in the quiet woods.

Charlotte and Walt moved to the McLean retirement community in Simsbury, CT in 2002. They enjoyed re-exploring back roads of Connecticut and together identified over 200 New England wildflowers and native plants. Charlotte was pre-deceased by her siblings Alice, Ethel, Marion, and Frederick Cook, and her husband of 74 years, Walter. She was pre-deceased by just four days by her sister-in-law Frances Whitehead with whom she shared a special bond. Charlotte is survived by her children and their spouses: Jerry (Lin) Collins of Evergreen, CO; Marilyn (Daniel) Rachlin of Clarksville, TN; Richard Collins of Lorton, VA and his close friend Darlene Reynolds of Washington, DC; Barbara (Charles) Goodwin of Bloomfield, CT; her grandchildren Tyler and Drew Collins; Beth Rachlin; Christopher, Kenneth (Kenya), and Peter Collins; Deborah, Katy, and Andrew (Heather) Goodwin; and her great-grandchildren Dominic Collins; Kaidyn Collins; and Hailey and James Goodwin. She is also survived by several Shepardson cousins and many nieces and nephews and their families.

Charlotte was a remarkable woman who inspired her family, friends, and caregivers with her steady optimism, curiosity, resilience, and kindness. She remained engaged with life and cherished those closest to her until her final hours. The family is deeply grateful that Charlotte was embraced with so much warmth and care by the aides, nurses, and staff of the McLean community, her home for the past 19 years.