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LeRoy Collins Jr. dies, was head of state's Dept. of Veterans Affairs

August 1, 2010
Lehigh Acres Citizen

Rear Admiral LeRoy Collins Jr., USNR (Ret.), 75, died Thursday, July 29, 2010, in Tampa, Fla. Well-known in Florida, he was the director of the Florida Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

A native of Tallahassee, Collins was born on September 3, 1934 to Mary Call Darby Collins and former Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins. He graduated from Leon High School where he was an Eagle Scout and served as president of the student body. He then accepted an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in the class of 1956, embarking upon a 34-year military career and retiring as a two-star Rear Admiral in 1990.

Collins served in the Navy for more than 10 years, beginning with a tour aboard amphibious transport USS Calvert (APA-32). He also served as an analyst for Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. and as a ballistic missile weapons officer aboard the newly commissioned nuclear powered fleet ballistic missile submarine USS James Madison (SSBS-627). He transferred to the Navy Reserves in 1966.

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Admiral LeRoy Collins

While a naval reservist, Collins served as commanding officer of the coastal minesweeper USS Thrush (MSC-204), and later as commanding officer of various Navy Reserve submarine units. He was the Navy's liaison to the Florida National Guard, and later commanding officer of the Naval liaison unit at U.S. Readiness Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Collins also became a prominent businessman and civic leader in Florida. He was instrumental in the growth of electronic payment systems in the United States, starting with the introduction of credit cards in Florida and the Southeast. As the founder and president of the Armed Forces Financial Network, Admiral Collins pioneered the deployment of ATMs and point-of-sale devices in U.S. military installations worldwide, including major U.S. aircraft carriers. He also held several other positions, including founding president of Financial Transaction Systems Inc. and a senior executive of Telecredit Service Center Inc.

Rather than retiring, Collins mounted an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2006. He was then appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist as the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, where he directed the state agency responsible for all of Florida's 1.8 million veterans. Continuing his support of the military community, Collins also recently founded the Florida Veterans Foundation Inc.

Collins also served in leadership positions of various organizations, most notably as president of the Tampa Kiwanis Club, a member of the Young Presidents' Organization, and a several term Vestry member at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. He also served on the board at Tampa General Hospital. At the time of his death, he was on the boards of the USS Victory Ship and the Collins Center for Public Policy.

He married the love of his life, Carol Jane Sisson, of Tampa, at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in 1959, and the couple celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary in June 2010.

Collins is survived by his wife, Jane Sisson; children Carol Jane Collins Smith (Gregg), Helen Call Collins, LeRoy Collins III (Mary Ellen), and Edward Sisson Collins (Chaz), all of Tampa; and eight grandchildren Phillip Call Jacob, Virginia Darby Smith, Gregory Coyle Smith, Christian Alexander Ines, Sara Irene Ines, Katherine Grace Smith, Hannah Collins Smith and Ayden Elizabeth Collins. He is also survived by his siblings, Jane Collins Aurell (John), Tallahassee, Fla.; Mary Call Collins Proctor (Palmer), Tallahassee, Fla.; and Sarah Darby Collins, Miami, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church on Monday, August 2, at 11 a.m. The family will receive guests in the Parish Hall prior to the service at 10 a.m., and immediately following the service at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club from 1 2:30 p.m. A graveside service will be held in Tallahassee at the family's ancestral home, The Grove, on Wednesday, August 4, at 10 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Florida Veterans Foundation Inc., 4040 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee, FL 32399; the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Foundation, 509 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602; or a charity of your choice.



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