George Willard Collins was
born November 12, 1915 in Lewisburg, Tennessee. He was baptized by J.S.
Batey in 1929. He was married to Ruth Morris August 7, 1939. Willard and
Ruth had two daughters: Corinne Collins Slayton, and Carol Collins
He entered Lipscomb
University, then a two year college, in 1934. Later he received the B.A.
from Vanderbilt University in 1938. He continued there and received his
M.A. the following year. In 1965 he was awarded the LL.D. from
Pepperdine University, then in 1977 he was awarded the LL.D. from
He began preaching in 1934
in Farmington, Tennessee. He served the church at Old Hickory, Tennessee
from 1939-1944. Then he worked with the church at Charlotte Avenue in
Nashville, Tennessee from 1946-1954. After 1955 he preached by
appointment and over a dozen gospel meetings per year. In 1949 he
preached a gospel meeting at Old Hickory, Tennessee. In that meeting
there were 166 responses of which there were 111 baptisms.
According to Preachers Of Today,
Vol. V, as of December, 1980 Collins had baptized 6,793 people, and
received a total of 12,223 responses, including 5,430 restorations as a
result of his preaching and teaching. He had great success in the
ministry. His booming voice and understanding of the scriptures kept his
Brother Collins was a
talented writer. He wrote for a number of brotherhood journals including
the Gospel Advocate and Twentieth Century Christian. In 1951 he wrote
the book, Daily Living For Christ, produced by the Gospel Advocate
Company. In 1962 he produced the Collins Craig Auditorium Meeting
Sermons, also printed by Gospel Advocate. In 1964 he worked with
Batsell Barrett Baxter and
M. Norvel Young
in the production of Great Preachers Of Today, Vol IV. It was printed by
Bible Research Press. For a number of years he wrote a weekly column in
the Nashville Banner under the title of, Daily Living With Christ.
For many years he served
David Lipscomb University in a number of different ways. From June 1,
1946 to August 31, 1977 he served as vice-president of the college, a
total of 31 years. After the departure of President
Athens Clay Pullias, the board of Trustees
unanimously decided to appoint Collins president of the college
September 1, 1977.
During his years as college president he helped to retire the school’s
debt of $3.2 million dollars. This he completed before 1980. Two of the
school’s greatest benefactors were A.M. Burton
and his wife Lillie. A.M. Burton died in 1966, and Lillie followed in
1981. The Burtons bequeathed their large farm to the college. Willard
Collins sold the property for $11.25 million. With this contribution the
school received its greatest financial stability, and went a long way to
fund the school’s endowment fund.
He was affectionately known as the “student’s
president.” His smiling face, his jovial personality, his kind words,
his quick wit, and his love for his fellow man made him a friend to the
staff, faculty, and students. In 1986, Brother
Collins retired from the presidency. He served as chancellor following
his retirement and in 1989 was named president emeritus, a title he held
for the rest of his life. All together he was connected with Lipscomb
University for over 70 years.
Willard Collins passed from this life December 11,
2007, at the good old age of 92. His death was without complication or
extended illness. He was simply an old servant of the Lord who was ready
to go Home. The funeral was held the following Saturday at the Granny
White Church of Christ on the Lipscomb University campus. He was
interred in the cemetery at Woodlawn where nearly thirty other preachers
of the gospel are now buried. Brother Collins was preceded
in death by his wife, Ruth; daughter, Corinne Collins Slayton; and
grandson, Bryan Collins Demonbreun. He was survived by his daughter,
Carole (Bobby) Demonbreun; son-in-law Ed Slayton; grandsons, Mark
Slayton and Michael Slayton and granddaughter, Tasha Demonbreun Jenkins;
and three great grandchildren.
Sources: Preachers Of Today Volumes 1-5 along
with various internet obituary reports.
Willard Collins is buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery
in Nashville, Tennessee. This cemetery serves as the final resting
place of nearly 28 gospel preachers and educators of yesteryear, the
list of which is a veritable who's who among church leaders. While
visiting Willard Collins' grave be sure to visit the grave of
Batsell Barrett Baxter and
E.H. Ijams, just within a few feet back
toward the street.
Woodlawn Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee, is located behind the 100 Oaks Shopping
Center that faces I-65 just south of the I-440 Interchange In The Southern Part
Of The City. From 100 Oaks travel
east on Thompson Lane and pass the Pepsi Bottlers, turn right into the Southside Park Of The Woodlawn
Cemetery or Turn left into the Main (Northside) Park of the Woodlawn Cemetery.
See a map of other graves of Gospel Preacher buried in this cemetery
Memorial Park Cemetery
Nashville, TN 37204
N 36˚ 06.827' x W 086˚45.681'
Accuracy To 15'
Graves Faces East
Fountain Lawn A - Lot 60
Nov. 1, 1943 - Sept. 22, 2000
Corinne Collins Slayton
She Taught Us To Love "As Is"
The Collins Are Buried Next To Life-Long Friends
The Baxters - E.H. Ijams
Further Back Under Tree
May 16, 1915-July 19, 2007
Loving Wife & Mother
Nov. 12, 1915-Dec. 11, 2007