1938 - 2023
In Memory of Bill Collin
William K.Collin was born at the Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, California, 1938, to Delia Estelle and Harold William Collin.
From a young age, he was interested in the natural world around him. An avid horseman in his teens, he and his father helped create a horseback rescue brigade in Marin County, coming to the aid of people in the hills of Marin. At the age of 15, he helped drive cattle from Tulare County to the Sierras.
His love of the outdoors followed him to college at UC Davis, where he specialized in biology, while spending his summers as a fire ranger in the high Sierras. In 1962, he joined the Peace Corps in Nigeria, where he met the love of his life, Beverly, a Canadian nurse. After two years in Nigeria, the couple were married on Vancouver Island in 1964.
They settled in Los Angeles, where Bill completed his Ph.D. in microbiology at UCLA's School of Medical Immunology, while Beverly practiced pediatric nursing. They soon welcomed two children, Kathie and Kent, whom they quickly taught to love the outdoors, with summers spent camping and tide-pooling.
The family moved to Fresno in 1975, where Bill joined the faculty of California State University, Fresno as a Professor of Biology. He would go on to teach virology and general biology there for 23 years, sharing his love of science and the natural world, leading students around the world in courses on "Man/Woman in the Natural Environment," chairing the department for six years.
In 1998, Bill and Bev purchased a cabin on the ocean on Vancouver Island, near Beverly's family, and returned there as often as they could to rockhound, photograph sunsets, and hear the sound of the ocean. The place became their home-away-from-home, with a warm and close-knit group of friends and family nearby. It was a place of solace and beauty to both Bill and Bev, and remains so to this day.
Bill was a modest man who did not like to have people brag about his accomplishments, despite his considerable contributions, notably helping establish the electron microscopy lab at UCLA and leading a study on West African sleeping sickness. But those who know him know that he was exceptional. He had talents that were sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising: a gourmet chef who loved French cuisine and bread-making, a skilled designer of jewelry and Gaelic knots, a talented artist of stained-glass and woodwork, a lover of astronomy, a trumpeter. He enjoyed fishing, hiking, and listening to the euphonium. He was a deeply kind and affectionate man, with a wry sense of humour, who was most happy when laughing with his wife, walking his dog, and listening to the sound of rock-filled waves at the beach.
He adored his two children and 5 grandchildren, Ella (21), Will (19), Henry (18), Anna (17), Spencer (15), in whom he instilled a deep love of fairness, kindness, and intellectual curiosity.
But it is his love for Beverly that shines through most of all -- the couple were married for 58 years and taught their children that love was something more valuable than any possession. Together, they modeled a sense of the legacy of their love to everyone who knew them.
Bill's health had declined significantly in the wake of a fall in May 2022 which broke his neck and left him mostly bed-ridden, but surprisingly did not diminish his quick wit and good humor.
Bill will be deeply missed. In addition to being survived by his beautiful wife, Beverly, he is survived by his loving sister, Marcie; his daughter, Kathie,(husband Miki); his son, Kent(wife Jen); and his five grandchildren, Ella, Will, Henry, Anna, and Spencer.
A celebration of life will take place at a later date.
Donations in memory of William K. Collin can be made through GiveWell.org to a charity of choice. We recommend the "New Incentives" childhood vaccination program in West Nigeria as a charity that would be dear to Bill's heart.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.whitehurstsullivan.com for the Collin family.