Albany, NY-Paul M. Collins, 73, died peacefully at his home in Albany, New York on Sunday, July 24, 2022. Born on February 22, 1949, he was the proud son of Howard and Françoise Collins.
Paul was a graduate of the Vincentian Institute in Albany and was an active alumnus of his cherished alma mater. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he majored in history, graduating cum laude, and became steeped in the ideals of Jesuit social justice. Throughout his life, Paul devoted himself to serving the next generation of Crusaders as President of the Holy Cross Club of Eastern New York. Paul earned his juris doctorate from Albany Law School, where he was salutatorian of the class of 1974.
The same year, he began a courtship with Lea Campion. They married in 1976 and embarked on a life-long journey together, bringing four children and six grandchildren into the world. Paul loved animals and, with Lea and his kids, looked after ducks, rabbits, fish, and the occasional lizard. He was especially fond of his dogs, particularly Wyatt and Sierra, who were always at his feet, looking for their next snack.
Paul began his career in law as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in Albany, working his way up to Executive Deputy Counsel until his departure in 1985. He spoke fondly about his time as a “baby lawyer” and frequently recounted that the most memorable days of his legal career were working with Erastus Corning II, Tom Whalen, and the staff and attorneys in Corporation Counsel.
From 1985-2005, he was an attorney at Hinman Straub PC, eventually becoming a principal partner, where he focused primarily on civil litigation and swung a decent softball bat. After a short time working at Sheehan, Greene, Golderman, Carraway, and Jacques, Paul served as Deputy Special Counsel to the New York State Board of Elections and argued several times before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
After six years with the Board of Elections, Paul was finally ready to retire, but could never take down his shine. Instead, he occasionally practiced law for the remainder of his life, helping others with whatever their needs may be, and always giving back to those less fortunate than himself.
A lifelong Democrat, Paul began serving the public as an Albany County legislator in 1983, after winning a hard fought primary contest. A representative well ahead of his time, Paul’s accomplishments as a legislator included ushering the passage of the first diversionary program for drug addicts, funding an adolescent drug treatment facility, rebuilding the pool at Lincoln Park, and protecting the rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community . He took special pride in helping to solve the everyday problems of his constituents during his 27-year career as a civil servant. Committed to social justice, he was a true man of the people.
Paul was an active member of the New Scotland Avenue and Albany communities. He was a devoted member of the Catholic Church and was a regular at the 8:15AM weekday masses in the Mater Christi Parish. He was the first President of the St. Teresa of Avila School Board, and helped plan the annual bazaar, where he held court at the raffle station with his beautiful wife, Lea.
At Westland Hills and Central Babe Ruth, Paul coached his sons’ baseball teams. Though the teams were often a rag-tag bunch of underdogs who seldom came out on top of games, he had a positive influence on innumerable young men well after they left the playing field, as well as those that did not play. Quiet in this type of work, he touched the lives of countless young people by finding them jobs, or keeping them out of the criminal justice system.
When he was not coaching or watching his daughters and sons excel in their pursuits, Paul was busy ensuring the Central Babe Ruth properties were well maintained, concessions were filled, and teams were plentiful, as President of the league. This love of the game carried over to his lifelong devotion to the New York Yankees, which he shared with his father, Howard. Paul spent many a weekend with his family and friends taking in a ballgame (and we all learned not to call him during a Yankees’ game).
As his children aged out of sports, Paul began substantial involvement with numerous local charitable organizations. He was especially proud of his work with Catholic Charities, providing service to people in need and advocating for justice. He was a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. One of his greatest achievements was serving as Chairman of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, and he loved showing off his grandchildren at the Hall after the parade. Paul also organized the “Dick Connors” lunch at the Hibernian Hall, which brought community members together to break bread and discuss matters of history, politics, and culture. Paul took great pride in his Irish Catholic identity, visiting the Emerald Isle on numerous occasions and soaking in Irish culture.
Always quick with a joke, he was an embodiment of Irish-American wit. Surprising to some, Paul had a sailor’s mouth and passed it to his four beautiful children. He taught his kids, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces the ins-and-outs of being a trickster, under the Cape Cod moonlight. He would literally give you the shirt off his back, but few would take him up on that offer since he was known to wear the same shirt for days on end. He was an avid angler and lover of nature, and particularly enjoyed spending time outdoors with his brother Dave. His devotion to the environment was such that he would eat food well past its expiration date, rather than have it end up in a landfill – a true humanitarian. Some of his best memories were spent on the golf course with his brother Pete, and he took considerable pride in his two holes-in-one.
A great void will be left in the lives of all he touched, but the greatest void will be left in the lives of his family. Paul was the beloved husband of Lea (Campion) Collins, with whom he just celebrated 46 years of marriage. He was the loving father of Paul (Lisa) Collins, Patrick (Erin) Collins, Kelly (Dan) Webster, and Katie. Of all Paul’s accomplishments, his greatest joy was his grandchildren. The memories he forged with Rose, Maggie, Madigan, Grace, Danny, and Michael are bountiful. He adored spoiling them at Jack’s Diner, watching them swim at the pool, taking them to Cape Cod, and enjoying the new family home in Glen Lake, which is a legacy he left his family in the most “Paul Collins” way possible.
Paul is also survived by his brother, Dave, cherished in-laws, and beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Peter, and sister Ginny.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Paul’s Funeral Mass 11:30 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at the Parish of Mater Christi, 35 Hurst Ave., Albany, NY 12208. The family requests masks be worn inside the church during the Funeral Mass .
To view the Mass please visit YouTube.com/C.ParishofMaterChristi
The Rite of Committal will be held at St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, NY immediately following the Mass.
A Celebration of Life will then follow at the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 375 Ontario Street, Albany, NY 12208.
To leave a message for the family please visit www.McveighFuneralHome.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Paul’s memory to the Father Peter G. Young, Jr. Foundation https://www.pyhit.org/ 134 Franklin St, Albany, NY 12202.
Published by McVeigh Funeral Home on Jul. 27, 2022.