Raymond Bonnie Collins
September 7, 1951 – October 9, 2020
Ray was born in Atlanta, Georgia, third child to now deceased parents, Albert Jackson and Blanche Sellers Collins. After his birth the family moved back to Tampa, Florida to be closer to his grandparents who had a major impact on who he would become. He was a feisty, fearless and fast little boy our family called “Ray Ray”. He loved all animals, playing army with little green plastic soldiers and dressing up like Davy Crockett. He was a thin child and picky eater who daily demanded bananas with peanut butter, and this remained his lifelong favorite meal. He was quite different from his older brother, A.J. Collins Jr., nicknamed Bud, and sister, Joy Lamb, who he called Sissy. He was full of mischief and his brother remembers fondly the regular holler from mom; “Hold him down, Bud!”, and he recalls Ray as a true outdoorsman. Joy remembers his absolute bravery when facing life, death and dangerous animals in natural environments. They adored him but always knew to watch out for his scissor kicking legs when in a tussle! Ray was loved, having a wonderful start in life.
When he was 10 years old, his family moved to Augusta, Georgia where his little sister, Mary Lou Collins McGregor, was born. He loved racing home from school to put her in his metal bicycle basket and ride her around the neighborhood as an infant. She survived! Lou saw him as a big, strong, talented protector who could overcome anything. He called Augusta his home and this is where he developed his deep-rooted love for family, lifelong friends, hunting, fishing, traveling, collecting, music, mattress crafting and his precious Masters Golf Tournament.
In 1969, the family moved to Savannah, Georgia furthering his father’s career. By now, Ray had developed into an awesome football player entering his senior year at Savannah Country Day School. His incredible swiftness as a running back and his fierce determination as a defensive end helped lead his team to win the state championship in 1969. He was forever proud of that! Ray furthered his education at Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Georgia. For six years, he majored in business and partying 101. He enjoyed jobs in food service and bartending being employed by the coolest restaurants along Savannah's famed River Street. He began his world travels by backpacking through Europe and returned with mesmerizing stories. One tale was about stumbling on rock legend Eric Clapton's home and hanging out with his groupies for a few days. The “Razor B” was an audacious soul and wherever he was there was going to be much fun and a little bit of trouble. Our favorite “brush with the law story” was when Ray and friends were charged with baiting a family duck pond with corn. The game warden hauled them into court and the judge, laughing out loud, dismissed the case after learning there were 30-40 shots fired and only one duck killed. He felt Ray had been punished enough!
In 1976, he joined most of his family now in Columbus, Georgia. Ray began a job working for his father’s company, Bemco Bedding, as a sales representative. There he found a great fixer upper home in Lake Bottom, studied the martial arts, was an avid supporter of Ducks Unlimited, and had the most handsome group of male roommate friends you would ever meet. Ray was a master BBQ griller who turned an old refrigerator into an oven that brought delectable happiness to many for over 20 years! He became an entrepreneur and his business, The Mattress Factory, reigned from 1980-2011. It was legend to many humorous commercials with Buddy, the black Labrador dog, the famous cash throw at the camera and the catch phrase, “I am the Factory”. Ray regularly enjoyed impersonating the American Dream wrestler, Dusty Rhodes, and he would elbow drop the candy on you in a heartbeat!
Ray met and married his first love, Mary Ann, in the early 80’s. They welcomed their precious sons, Alec David and Elliot Jackson, into the world. Even though divorced, we all grieved the loss of their mother in 2007. He enjoyed teaching the boys, using direct instructions, the many things he had learned. As a father he was proud of the dedicated and caring men they turned out to be. Ray was most impressed by watching them each develop thriving businesses of their own. Alec, a licensed massage therapist at Tri-Therapy of Columbus and Jackson, a business major working as an Independent Life Insurance Agent throughout Georgia. Alec shared that his father always had a song in his heart and, no matter what obstacles he faced, his Dad was always in his corner like the trainer Mikey was for Rocky Balboa. Jackson affectionately remembers his Dad as a true “good ole boy” who was a hard worker and the consummate entertainer.
In 2003, he married his soulmate, Karen, who called Ray her one and only true love. He welcomed her children, April Dupont and Mandy Hartshorne, and was especially grateful of the loving grandchildren they all shared. They designed a home that merged their love of travel and collecting with its tasteful display of Masters memorabilia and unique items from exotic places they encountered around the world. The Collins’ enjoyed tennis, throwing pool parties and inviting family with friends to enjoy festive times together. In 2010, Ray suffered a stroke that crippled much of his left side. Even though their world drastically changed, Karen provided the opportunities for them to continue to travel and enjoy life. The couple even returned to Savannah for his 50th high school reunion in 2019, there his former teammates presented him with the coveted Hornets spirit stick. Her stable consistency kept him positive and focused on doing the things he could do, like being closer to God, family and sharing important values with younger ones. Ray shared a favorite scripture at our parent’s Golden anniversary, Ephesians 5:33: “Nevertheless, each one of you must love his wife as he does himself: on the other hand, the wife should have deep respect for her husband”. This truly became something he and Karen would completely commit to and depend on.
Ray was our brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, friend and a fighter to the end. He initiated the painful opportunities to give each of us a deeply consoling goodbye and heartfelt I love you. He died peacefully with his forever devoted wife, Karen Collins, and loyal friend, Brenda Bicknell, at his side. It will be our great joy to see him again in a promised resurrection. Thank you all for your love and support to our family during this very sad time. A small memorial service will be announced in the coming days with an update posted here shortly.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Raymond Bonnie Collins
October 14, 2020
My memory of meeting and getting to know Ray is as clear today as it was 50 years ago! He came to SCDS as a senior and impressed everyone immediately, Which is no small accomplishment when 75% of the Seniors had been in school together since First Grade. He had a large personality and quick smile.I remember thinking I’m going to like this guy! I was right... we became good friends.
As a great example of his influence I will tell a football story. We had all heard we had a good football player joining our team but we did not know how good...Wow! He brought new level of focus and determination to a team that was already well coached and successful. In one of our first practice session Ray knocked our very good offensive tackle on his rear end. One of the coaches mildly reminded him it was practice, to which Ray responded “ Coach it was just a little love tap.” That’s the moment we knew there was a new force in town! As you know we went on to win the State Championship. I give Ray a great deal of credit to setting our course from we “might win to we would win! “Need less to add throughout that year every time someone got flagged for being too aggressive we would all say “ Coach it was just a little love tap!”He Made Us Better on and off the field. We love him and we will miss him!
October 13, 2020
To my sister Karen who married Ray Collins who was a strong man, may she always remember all the times with Ray and all the strength she had to be at his side all the way until he went to heaven. Rest in Peace Ray.
October 11, 2020
MY DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO KAREN AND ALL OF THE FAMILY.I HAVE KNOWN RAY FOR A LONG TIME AND HE WAS A GREAT MAN.VERY ENTERTAINING AND FUNNY.I WAS HONERED TO HAVE HIM FOR A FREIND. BOBBY CHESNUT