Happy 93rd Birthday, Wayne Collins!

Six years ago we created this website as a surprise for Wayne Collins's 87th birthday and then we "re-activated" it for his 90th in 2014.  And now, here we are, at his 93rd in August 2017!  He hasn't slowed down one bit since we created the original site, although we haven't really managed to keep pace with him and update this website very much!  Safe to say, he continues flying near and far! 

The most recent and exciting update was the renaming of Wood County Airport as Wood County Airport - Collins Field.  (Photos on this page by Gary Bright - Gene's Photography.) Check out the interview with Wayne on the airport website: https://woodcountyairport.net

We hope you'll enjoy this site whether it's your first time around or a refresher (we will try to add a few recent pictures to the photo albums), and by all means, click the "Add to Memory Book" link and drop Wayne a birthday greeting for his 93rd birthday!

We’ve chronicled some of Wayne’s many activities and accomplishments with mementos, photos, news clippings, and even some recordings from the 40s of his swing band.  Please enjoy them and add your good wishes by signing the memory book as well as adding any stories that you might like to share.  And please do help us share this website by sharing the link -- https://sites.google.com/site/waynecollins87th/  --  with others who might like to see it and wish Wayne well.

Interview with Wayne Collins at Wood County Airport

A brief bio:

Wayne was born in Mineola, Texas on August 10, 1924, the only son of Thomas Aubry (“Rip”) and Beulah Kathryn (“Peck”) Collins.  He grew up in Mineola and went on to Rice University (then called the Rice Institute).  His studies were interrupted by Naval service in World War II (and Wayne remained in the Naval Reserve after the war, eventually retiring as Captain). After the war, Wayne completed his degree at Rice on the G.I. Bill  -- and the G.I. Bill also allowed him to learn to fly, an important part of this story.  Upon graduation, Wayne joined his father in the family business back in Mineola.  In 1948, Wayne married Frances McBride and the following year they built the house on North Johnson St. where Wayne still resides.  Son Craig was born in 1950, Corey in 1954, Cristle in 1960, and Clay in 1961. Since the early 1950s, Wayne has served as a civic leader on many fronts in Mineola and beyond, serving twice as President of the Chamber of Commerce, and leading various civic initiatives (you can learn about that in some of the photos and news clippings on this site).  Having worked with his father to expand the Mineola store in the 1950s, in 1962, Wayne opened a new store in Athens.  Another followed in Bergfeld Center in Tyler in 1967.  He briefly operated a second store in Mineola in the late 60s (called "Dana's" -- Dana is daughter Cristle's first name) and for a decade in the late 70s-early 80s, a fourth store also operated in Broadway square mall in Tyler.  In 1995, Wayne took his first retirement, closing the family business.  (Actually it was his second, if you count his twenty years of naval reserve service.)  Soon after the store closing, he went to work at First Service Bank, an institution which he had helped found and for which he had previously served as Chairman of the Board.  He failed retirement from that position, too, carrying on afterwards as the leader of the Wood County airport, yet another institution he had helped found.  He recently retired from that role as well, although he’s hardly slowed down as he continues to lead formation flying clinics, serve as a member of the local planning and zoning board, and play with the Lake Country Orchestra, among many other activities.  Wayne has experienced a lot in his 93 years, but 2017 may also count as one of his most difficult years, with the death of his beloved wife, Frances in February, after almost 69 years of marriage.

After his family, flying seems to have been the love and constant of Wayne’s life.  As a toddler he had a pedal-plane instead of the usual tricycle (see the photo in the "planes" album) and as a teenager Wayne had a byline for a photo of a crash at the local airfield (that clipping is also among the "planes" photo album).  As mentioned above, he pursued flying instruction with the GI Bill after the war.  Flying even made it as a theme into the opening ads for the Bergfeld store most of which were set and photographed at the Tyler airport and on the steps of planes.  (You can see a pdf of that section of the paper in the "news clippings" part of this website.)  Once his beloved Bonanza N850T entered the picture, things stepped up.  Wayne has taken it around the world a few times, served as the initiating force for formation flights to annual fly-ins at Oshkosh, and delivered two single-engine planes to medical missionaries in Africa for Wings of Hope.  And you’ll see the Bonanza figures in the family photos as Wayne’s grandkids have regularly been up in the plane and done young eagle flights as well as joined him at Oshkosh.  There are lots of news stories about the plane and Wayne's adventures with it gathered here.

So if you're visiting this site, please do add your greetings to ours:  Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you!