‘Rip’ Collins dies at 104
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Coach Samuel James “Rip” Collins, the legendary local coach, died March 7 at Halifax Health Medical Center in Port Orange. Collins was a retired educator who turned 104 on Dec. 14, 2019.
The trailblazer, who integrated the Volusia County school system, was inducted into the Florida Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1985.
Collins was the first head football coach at Campbell Junior High and an assistant at Campbell Senior High.
Helped countless kids
Harold Lucas coached with Collins at Campbell back in the 1960s.
“He was a very private man. He was a very nice man and a very intelligent man. He knew the game of football. He was a great coach. He was very good fundamentally,” Lucas told the Daytona Times.
Collins had successful coaching careers in Walton and Volusia counties where he coached football, basketball and baseball. He started the football program at Tivoli High in DeFuniak Springs, a small town located between Tallahassee and Pensacola.
He helped countless athletes who knew if they desired to attend college, Coach Rip would secure a scholarship.
Lucas said, “It was a different era back when we were coaching. We had to seek out the schools. Coach did everything he could to help his players get scholarships.’’
Collins was a history teacher and one of two teachers selected to integrate schools in Volusia County. Collins integrated schools by teaching at Mainland High, which was originally an all-White school. Today the school is mostly African American.
In December, Collins was honored by his church, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in Daytona Beach. The City of Daytona Beach also honored him with a proclamation during the church service.
Collins couldn’t attend, but his daughter, Sonya Frazier, represented him.
March 16 service
During an interview with the Daytona Times shortly after his birthday, Coach Collins said he was “extremely honored and quite moved’’ by the recognition by the church and the city.
Collins taught Sunday school up to the age of 102. He grew up African Methodist Episcopal with his mother and father having had brothers that served as bishops in the denomination.
His funeral will be held at Allen Chapel on Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Daytona Memorial Park South, 1425 Bellevue Ave.
R.J. Gainous funeral home is in charge of arrangements. Visitation hours are set for Sunday, March 14. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gainous Funeral Home, 804 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd., Daytona Beach.
Born in Quincy
Collins was born in Quincy, Florida in 1915; he was educated in the Gadsden County school system.
A football college scholarship brought him to Daytona Beach where he attended Bethune-Cookman College (now University). He graduated from Bethune-Cookman in 1947.
Coach “Rip” Collins has received numerous awards and is a member or past member of a number of professional, social and civic organizations. He is also a lifetime member of Alpha Psi Alpha Fraternity.
He married his college sweetheart, Ollye Eichelberger, in March 1942 and remained married 77 years later. They had three children: Samuel III (deceased), Thaddeus and Sonya.