Dr. Clyde E. Collins, Sr., 73, of Burns, TN, passed away on Feb. 23, 2020, surrounded by his family.
Funeral services will be conducted Friday morning, Feb. 28, 2020 at 11 a.m. from the First United Methodist Church in Dickson, TN. Rev. Ed White officiating. Interment and graveside services will be on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Pressgrove Cemetery, 1585 Unionville Deason Road, Shelbyville, TN. Father William Holt will officiate. Visitation will be on Thursday Feb. 27 at Taylor Funeral Home from 4 until 8 p.m. and on Friday beginning at 10 a.m. until time of service. Those desiring, memorials are suggested to the Willie Rae Wren Rayburn Scholarship Fund c/o Martin Methodist College, 433 West Madison St., Pulaski, TN 38478
Born in Shelbyville, TN, Clyde was part of a third-generation dirt-poor sharecropping family. Using his brains and good old-fashioned grit, he earned a scholarship to Martin Methodist Junior College, with the intention of becoming a high-school chemistry teacher in his hometown. As noble a goal as that was, however, one of his professors mentored him and pushed him to look broader and think bigger. He attributed his academic and professional success to her mentorship, eventually establishing a scholarship fund in her name: The Willie R. Rayburn Memorial Scholarship.
At Martin College, he met Janetta (“Netta”) Rogers Hankal, a nursing student. They both attended Vanderbilt University and were married in 1970, shortly after graduating. Netta supported them financially through Clyde’s four years at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1973 and served three years stationed in Scotland as a medical officer. After several years of medical residency and training in Charlotte, North Carolina, Clyde and Netta settled in Dickson with their two young sons, Clyde, Jr. (“Ned”) and Charlie. Clyde spent over 20 years as a family physician at Jackson Clinic and Goodlark Hospital, then switched to industrial medicine for 10 years before retiring in 2011.
Clyde’s life was centered around caring for family, friends, and patients. He considered any of his sons’ friends to be family, especially if they were service men and women. For the 15 cumulative years his sons served in the Army and Navy, the Collins house was a revolving-door bed and breakfast for soldiers and sailors on their journeys across the country. Clyde loved nothing more than hearing their stories (while sipping whiskey, of course). His den is filled with souvenirs and military paraphernalia sent from across the world by those he took in, if only for a night: American flags flown over U.S. bases in Iraq, knives from Afgani bazaars, unit coins, and pictures signed by helicopter crews. Even though his Navy career never involved any actual time on a ship, he was fortunate enough to spend three days with Charlie aboard the USS McClusky, where he occupied his time by convincing the entire crew to dish the dirt on his son.
He was often a walking dichotomy. He enjoyed supporting others, as long as he was seen as merely an observer on the sidelines (he once rigged a fake toy exchange for his son’s elementary class to make sure a needy classmate got big Christmas toys). He was an avid reader who loved all genres of books but especially science fiction. He was a proud techno-Luddite, declaring anything invented after the 8-head VCR to be useless. Despite being outwardly generous and warm, he kept many of his emotions internalized. Legend has it that he only ever cried four times in his life: twice for the births of his sons, once for the death of his father, and once when Walker, Texas Ranger was canceled.
Although Alzheimer’s disease slowly robbed Clyde of his memories, his family is certain these are some he would have considered to be his favorites:
Racing through the Scottish highlands in a small Mercedes coupe with Netta as his co-pilot.
Always responding to the question, “Do you have a pocket knife?” with “I’ve got my pants on, don’t I?”
Endless summer days spent on the Tennessee River water skiing, swimming, and being willing to selflessly sacrifice his wife’s and sons’ bodies to ensure the boat never hit the dock.
Proudly being an unsuccessful wannabe hobby farmer.
Never quite beating his pinewood derby nemesis.
Teaching his sons that a job worth doing is a job worth doing well.
Being a jack-of-all-trades handyman who could manage almost any task himself . . . unless it involved fetching tools; that’s what sons were for.
The thrill of his first test drive in a semi-restored 1996 Mustang, with only 5-gallon buckets for seats, no top, and no muffler.
Jack and Ginger (light on the ginger).
The satisfaction felt after finishing a wood working project.
Early morning coffee on the porch swing watching turkeys and deer saunter around the farm.
The glorious taste of bugs trapped in his mustache after riding his Goldwing.
Treating his dog to a Dairy Queen ice cream cone, while driving around town.
Telling jokes or funny stories . . . preferably those that embarrassed his sons.
Knowing that he was loved, respected, and well-cared-for by his devoted wife, dependable sons, and loyal friends, especially in the later years of his life.
Clyde is preceded in death by his parents, James Collins and Nadine Tucker, and his sister, Linda Collins Hardison.
He is survived by his wife, Netta Collins; his sons, Ned Collins and Charlie Collins; his daughters-in-law Alison Harmon and Erin Collins; and his three grandchildren: Jackson Collins, Max Collins, and Amelia Collins.
He will rest in Unionville alongside his extended family.
Services under the direction of Taylor Funeral Home, Dickson, TN (615)446-2808. Taylorsince1909.com