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Remembering Clif Collins' poetry and wit

Laurel Leader

Old Town lost a longtime resident, beloved neighbor and gifted writer when Clif Collins died on Aug. 20.

Collins was featured in this column in April after the publication of his book of poetry, “Lives of the Apostles.” He passed away after a long battle with myositis, a muscle disorder and diffuse scleroderma, an organ disease.

Family, Old Town friends, colleagues from Montgomery College, fellow Orioles and Clemson fans, and other loved ones composed the congregation of about 300 people who gathered for his funeral on Aug. 25 at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church to celebrate his life and offer support to his wife, Eileen.

Collins was eulogized by former neighbor Steadman Chapman, who recalled Collins’ commitment to the many students he taught as an English professor at Montgomery College. He noted his deep love for life and memorable sense of humor. Chapman noted that if Collins, who once portrayed the president of the United States in an acting role, was in fact elected to that office, he would institute national holidays that included Bob Marley’s and Roberto Clemente’s birthdays and the anniversary of Clemson University’s first football game.

Fellow Montgomery College professor Miller Newman and neighbor Scott Lilienthal read selections of Collins’ poetry. Rev. Sheila McJilton, the pastor of St. Philip’s, remembered him as a man who “lived life large.”

“He loved his wife and his family,” McJilton said. “He had strong opinions. He cherished his good friends. He didn’t talk much about his faith, yet he did live it. He had integrity and courage. He possessed a keen intellect and wit.”

Thank you, Eileen and family, for sharing Clif with us all and God bless you.

The Laurel Historical Society is gearing up for a busy fall.

On Sept. 13, the LHS will host a lecture and workshop about community involvement. Alexander Chan, a 4-H youth development educator, will present “Living Local: Everyday Civic Engagement.”

The evening will include local vendors and ideas on how to reuse plastic bags. It begins at 7 p.m. at the Laurel Pool Room at the corner of 9th and Main streets. It is free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $2 for non-LHS members.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, the LHS will team up with the Laurel Arts Council for a Make-A-Tile Workshop. The Arts Council is preparing for its first public art project, a Laurel history bench. Workshops participants will have the opportunity to contribute to the bench. The event is free for ages 10 and up and all materials and instruction are provided.

Clay molds of historic Laurel sites will be available for participants to create their own relief tiles – one to take home and one to contribute to the bench. Workshops will be held at 10 a.m., 12 and 2 p.m. at the Laurel Pool Room, 9th and Main streets.

The Arts Council will also offer a glazing workshop on Sunday, Sept. 30, at the same spot. To register, go to or e-mail

The third annual McCeney March will be held on Saturday, Sept. 29 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Laurel Museum, 817 Main St. The march honors the late Jim McCeney, a longtime LHS board member, and raises money for a scholarship for history students. Registration can be completed online at March participants and LHS members are then invited to a Members Picnic at Riverfront Park. For questions, call 301-725-7975.

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