Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Standing tall like the hills, a tribute to Cecil Woodrow Collins
"God, give me hills to climb,
And strength for climbing!"
ending Arthur Guiterman's poem, Hills
could well describe the life and work of the
late Cecil Woodrow Collins who went out from the hills of
He was the first-born of six children, three sons and three daughters, of Francis Thurman Collins (known as Bob T.) and Mary Viola (Collins) Collins. With both his father and mother born into the Collins lineage, Cecil's family roots go back to the first Collins settler in the county, Thompson Collins and his wife Celia Self Collins, and their children.
In Cecil's paternal line were his grand parents, Thompson ("Thomp") Smith Collins and Susan ("Susie") Jane Cook Collins; his great grand parents, Francis ("Frank") and Rutha Nix Collins: and his great, great grand parents, early settlers Thompson Collins and Celia Self Collins.
In Cecil's maternal line were his grandparents James ("Jim") Johnson Collins and Margaret A. Nix Collins; his great grand parents, Ivan Kimsey Collins and Martha J. Hunter Collins; and his great, great grandparents, Thompson and Celia Self Collins.
Back when Bob T. Collins courted and married Mary Viola Collins, tracing of family roots was not as popular as it became later in the twentieth century. Cecil's parents had the same last name. Sure, they both went back to the earliest settler, Thompson Collins. Of "good mountain stock," these "distant" cousins reared six children of excellent character, intelligence and integrity: Cecil, Hazel, Jim, Neal, Mary Catherine and Betty Jane. Of his siblings, one, Jim, preceded Cecil in death.
educated at the one and/or two-teacher school at Choestoe, and
Then came World War II. Cecil Woodrow Collins enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard where he served as a "90-Day Wonder" Lieutenant JG officer. His two brothers also served in World War II: James Thompson Collins in the U. S. Navy and Robert Neal Collins in the Army Air Force. Cecil was on active duty in the Coast Guard through the end of the war in 1945, and continued as a reserve officer until his discharge in 1955.
In 1946 Cecil
Collins began a 45-year career with the Social Security Administration
(SSA), serving first as a field representative in the claims
department. It was while he was working in
proved that he was ready to "climb mountains" in his work in the Social
Security Administration. He served for more than 20 years as branch
manager in the office at
His funeral was
conducted at the church he loved, First Baptist, Gainesville, on April
24, 2006, with his pastor, Dr. Bill Coates, and retired pastor, Dr.
John Lee Taylor, and Bruce Fields remembering characteristics of this
mountain main who, as Guiterman expressed
in his poem, found "hills to climb" throughout his life and went all
the way to the top of them. His body was taken back to the "hills of
home," and interred at
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail