Peter Morrow Collins
  • Donate to the American Cancer Society

Share This Obituary

Memories & Candles

“I miss my Dad ”
1 of 9 | Posted by: Phil Collins - Jacksonville, FL

“Peter preceded me as the heavyweight varsity coxswain at Dartmouth College, and he was my inspiration as another energetic short New Yorker with an...Read More »
2 of 9 | Posted by: MIKE HEITNER - Brooklyn, NY

“My condolences to Bern and family. So very sorry for your loss. He made me feel comfortable the first day I met him at PF+C and always enjoyed his...Read More »
3 of 9 | Posted by: Arliene R. Torre - Richmond, VT

“Dear Collins Family -- thank you for sharing Mr. Collins with all of us. He made me feel right at home on my first day at PF&C back in January of...Read More »
4 of 9 | Posted by: Marianne Green - Fairfax, VT

“My deepest condolences to the entire family and friends! ”
5 of 9 | Posted by: Sandy McGregor - Winooski, VT

“Sincerest condolences to Bern and the Family. Many great and fond memories of Peter, Bern and family as our family's best "next door neighbor" on...Read More »
6 of 9 | Posted by: A friend

“I'm so sorry to hear about Peter's death. For three years, I chatted with him nearly every work day at Paul Frank + Collins and had hoped to see him...Read More »
7 of 9 | Posted by: Stephanie Hahn Nolan - Nashville, TN

“I am sorry to hear of Peter's passing. I first met him when I worked at the Howard Bank back in the 70s, and Peter was doing legal work for the Bank....Read More »
8 of 9 | Posted by: Rich Feeley - Colchester, VT

“RIP my friend Peter. My 12 years at Champlain were so rewarding and fulfilling because of your leadership, mentoring and vision. Champlain College...Read More »
9 of 9 | Posted by: David Provost - Shelburne, VT

Sympathy Flowers
Click Here to Send Flowers

Peter Morrow Collins, of South Burlington, after a prolonged battle with cancer, died peacefully at the McClure Miller VNA Respite House on June 10, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. Peter was born in New York City in 1937 to Harold and Marjorie Collins; the family, including older brother Christopher, moved to Lake Success, Great Neck, on Long Island in 1943, where they grew up, attending Great Neck public schools. Peter was taught to sail in 1947 and sailing became a lifelong passion. He was on the wrestling team and ran cross country in high school, and he also enjoyed hunting which continued through college and while in the Navy. Peter entered Dartmouth in 1955, graduating in 1959. While at Dartmouth, he was the varsity coxswain for the heavy weight crew, was a member of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity, and the hunting club. In 1959 he was admitted to Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI, where he served on two destroyer escorts out of Newport. While on active duty, Peter met the love of his life on a blind date, Bernadine (Bern) Heller. After completing his Navy service in 1962, he married Bern whom he still referred to as his "bride" after 55 years. He attended Boston University Law School, and upon graduation in 1965, moved with Bern and their newborn son Philip to Burlington, Vermont. Peter carved his own path in law, from clerking and practicing at Mikell & Stuart, to hanging his own shingle out of an annex office of the local savings bank, to founding partner of Paul, Frank & Collins, which he helped to build into a preeminent, enduring law firm. He served on numerous community boards, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Burlington Police Commission. Over his fifty years of practice he tackled a variety of legal issues, and broke new ground while serving his clients with integrity and empathy. He was a natural teacher, and began teaching Business Law at Champlain College in 1965, primarily as a way to supplement his family income while starting his law practice. He looked forward at the beginning of each semester to inspiring and sharing his Navy stories with a new crop of students in what turned into a seventeen-year tenure as a part-time faculty member. On June 9, 2017, the Champlain College Board of Trustees approved a Resolution in Recognition and Appreciation of Peter's service for over fifty years. After providing legal counsel to the College in his role as Senior Partner at the law firm he co-founded, he was elected Secretary of the Corporation in 1980, and was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1990. He served as Chairman from 1999 to 2001, and at the conclusion of his Board service in 2003, he served on the Facilities Committee as Trustee Emeritus. He worked with five Presidents, and "his leadership and vision have led the College through a period of tremendous growth and success. Through distinguished service to Champlain College he has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues and the community. His stewardship and contributions have improved the lives of thousands of students, faculty, alumni, and friends of Champlain." His passion for sailing and boats, as evidenced by his and Bern's 44-year active membership in the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, included service on the Board of Governors, and a two-year tenure, 1998-1999, as Commodore. Bern shared his love of boats and sailing, and they and their three children, Philip, Andrea, and Kelly, enjoyed many years of racing and cruising on Lake Champlain. Peter was also known for his keen interest in new boat design and was one of the first owners in 1989 of a multi-hull on Lake Champlain, much to the enjoyment and amusement of his family and close friends. All of their boats were named Bear, until the final acquisition of a classic Bridges Point 24, Trillium. Upon retirement, he was able to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams of attending the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine. Although he was unable to finish the wooden sailing dinghy he started in his garage, his son and grandson will finish and launch it in his honor. Peter loved the natural beauty of Vermont, enjoying motorcycle rides on its backroads, hiking, and cross-country skiing. From his childhood throughout his life, he loved dogs and looked forward to his daily early morning walks with them. He had a deep devotion to and love for his family. He was a supportive and encouraging father, always believing in his children's potential. He adored his four grandchildren: Kaelen Collins Close, Wyatt Flannery Collins, Eva Collins Meade and Thomas Holt Williams Meade. He was committed and open to new ideas, particularly ones that would develop people's potential, help underserved groups, or give voice to people with untapped talent. Upon meeting Peter, people were struck by his warm engaging nature, his big and humble heart, and his ability to talk with anyone--whether at board meetings, dinner parties, while tinkering with boats, or daily dog-walking. Peter is survived by his wife, Bern; children Philip, Andrea, Kelly and her husband Stephen Meade; grandchildren Kaelen, Wyatt, Eva and Thomas; brother Christopher and sister-in-law Luanne Collins; and several dear nieces and nephews. He was a beloved husband, dad, grandpa, brother, father-in-law, and favorite uncle who continued to inspire with his determination and courage as he approached the end of what he called a full life. The family wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to the staff at McClure Miller VNA Respite House, the VNA hospice nurses and volunteers, and to Dr. Frank Landry for his years of care and friendship. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Peter's name may be made to the Champlain College Single Parent Program and the Vermont Visiting Nurse Association. A Celebration of Peter's Life will be held at the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, 2790 Harbor Road, Shelburne, Vermont, on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 4:00 p.m.

Send Condolences