Howard Albert Collins, Jr., of Leawood, Kansas, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, surrounded by his loving family at the age of 80 following several months of declining health.
Howard was born on February 17, 1943, in North Tonawanda, New York, to Howard and Anne Collins. The family relocated to Wheaton, Illinois, where Howard spent a great deal of his young life. As a teenager, he developed his passion for tinkering and repairing cars, starting with his beloved Corvette that he worked so hard to earn.
Shortly after graduating from Lewis University in Illinois, Howard entered the U.S. Marines in 1966 as a Helicopter Mechanic. Following his enlistment, he was discharged as a Staff Sergeant. Howard then began taking flight lessons and developed a passion for aviation. He started his career as a flight engineer for TWA then on to a pilot for US Air. His love and passion for his career continued until his retirement as a Captain at age 60.
Howard wore many hats: husband, father, grandfather, friend, mechanic, advisor, and boat captain to name a few. We can still hear him saying, “OK, time for a boat ride!” Howard had the biggest heart. He would drop anything for anyone, anytime, anywhere. He never rolled his eyes, and was the first to show up to help, no matter what time of day. However, if you called and asked what he was doing, he would always answer, “I’m in the aisle at Home Depot.”
Howard met the love his life, Jawn, and married her May 3, 1969, and their love story continued for over 50 years. Together,they built a beautiful family. He was immensely proud of his son, two daughters, nine grandchildren, all who affectionately called him “Papa.” He loved helping his family fix cars and just about anything else, do taxes, and he taught us life lessons we will never forget. To know him was to love him.
Howard is survived by his wife Jawn, daughter Erin Opfer (Duane), son Zach Collins (Meghan), daughter Kelsey Brahl(Adam), nine beautiful grandchildren, four sisters (Kathie, Peggy, Jeanne and Barbara), countless nieces and nephews, and many other family and friends. He is preceded in death by his father Howard Collins Sr., mother Anne Collins and sister Susie Collins.
We know our Captain has spoken and is on his direct flight to eternal peace. Keeping our skies safe now and always. Dad we love you. We miss you.