R. Thomas Collins, Jr. (1947 - 2006)
R. Thomas Collins, Jr. (Thomas Collins or “Tom”), 58, a writer, editor, publisher, and international public affairs executive, died of leukemia on May 24, 2006 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Thomas Collins was a current resident of Vienna, Virginia.
Thomas Collins was born at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT on December 26, 1947 as the second of three children, and first son of Robert T. Collins and Mary Close (Savage) Collins. As a child growing up, “Tom” and family called home West Hartford, CT, and Oakwood, OH. Thomas went to grade school at Renbrook School in West Hartford, and attended Oakwood Junior & Senior High School in Oakwood, OH. As a young man, Tom was active in service through the Boy Scouts, and he achieved Eagle Scout in Dayton, OH in 1962. Tom was a 1966 graduate of Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH, where among other activities he served as co-captain of his varsity football team. Tom went on to earn a B.A. in Government from Boston University, where he was graduated in 1970. From there he pursued a career as a reporter before attending and graduating from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism where he earned his M.S.J. in 1974.
Thomas Collins married Sun Oak Kim on April 24, 1971 at St. George’s Catholic Church on the Green in Guilford, CT. Tom and Sun Oak had two children, a daughter, Lee Kathleen, and a son, Micah Thomas, both born in New York City while Tom was attending Columbia and forging the early years of his long career in journalism and public affairs.
Thomas Collins worked as a reporter for newspapers in New England between 1969 and 1973, before moving to New York, where he was a reporter, rewriteman and editor with the New York Daily News between 1974 and 1979. Tom began reporting about the oil industry in 1973 during the Arab Oil Embargo. In 1979, in the midst of the Iranian Revolution he joined Mobil Oil, which had an active public affairs program to secure greater access to oil supplies at home and abroad, and to allow free market forces to flourish in global petroleum markets. Tom worked for Mobil Oil from 1979 to 1996 where he held various management posts, both in the upstream and downstream units. From 1984 to 1990, Tom as manager of public relations for U.S. marketing and refining unit, managed and directed 15 public relations professionals, covering scores of operational facilities for the nation’s second largest petroleum company. From 1990-96, Tom was the manager of public affairs for Mobil’s worldwide exploration and producing unit, managing and directing 50 professionals serving 17 business units operating in 30 countries, with particular focus on Nigeria, Indonesia, Qatar, and Vietnam.
After retirement from Mobil, Tom served from 1997 to 1999 as Vice President for The Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Ltd. as head of the Washington D.C. representation office for that worldwide resources company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.
Thomas Collins actively participated in the community. He served on the Fairfax County (VA) Public Library Foundation where he was a member of the board of directors of private sector fund raising and policy support group between 2000 and 2003. Tom served the Fairfax County Public Schools as member (1984-1995) and co-chairman (1988-1994) of the Superintendent’s Business & Industry Advisory Council. In addition, Tom was a member and vice president of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Virginia Business Council from 1984-1990.
Through his career in the oil industry, Tom traveled extensively and worked on projects in most of the world's oil exploration and producing regions, particularly Nigeria, Qatar, Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia. All the while traveling, Tom saw the world through a writer’s eyes, and published his experiences in a series of books he called the Newswalker Series. In his own words:
“I began writing what evolved into the NewsWalker Series late in the 1960s. I wrote to sort through my thoughts, record my work and to bring order to life... When I began to realize what I was writing was more than just a diary, I was at the New York Daily News working as a reporter and editor on the city desk. The thrill of daily reporting had begun to fade. (But) I hoped my personal journal could evolve into another more permanent form. Now these years later I see the territory covered in the NewsWalker volumes chronicled not only the journey of me and my family, but also the history of my time, oddly bookmarked by the public evens of November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001.”
Since retirement from oil industry affairs in 2002, Tom took the lead as a true innovator as he focused his energies on journalism and publishing ventures - participating in emerging media markets by utilizing technological advances in both print and online media platforms. In 1998, Tom founded and managed RavensYard Publishing, a print-on-demand micropublishing company, that was among the first book publishers to harness digital storage-based, on-demand printing technologies that could fulfill worldwide demand, and thus create new opportunities for emerging talent and niche-interest authors. Since its inception, RavensYard has delivered 24 titles available through global bookseller channels. In addition to RavensYard, Tom began publishing a blog, Quillnews, which developed a loyal readership that benefited from Tom’s plain spoken eloquence, and depth of knowledge gained during his career in the oil and media industries. Through Quillnews, Tom helped his readers make sense of the rapidly changing world in which they lived, and in his own words, he “returned to his original intent – looking for the story behind the news.”
Perhaps his most lasting written legacy, is a family narrative, One Life at a Time – A New World Family Narrative 1630-1960, which he wrote and published through RavensYard Publishing, which documents his children’s ancestry and origins. A work of historical journaling and storytelling, it weaves facts with historical context and has proven to be an invaluable text among New England genealogists, as well as his extended family.
Tom’s most lasting legacy is his loving family, who cared for him deeply and is saddened beyond words by his loss.
He is survived by his wife, Sun Oak (Kim) Collins, his daughter, Lee Kathleen Collins, M.D., his son, Micah Thomas Collins, his mother, Mary Close Savage, his sister, Tara Susanne (Collins) Gordon, and his brother William Savage Collins.
Calling hours for R. Thomas Collins, Jr. will be held on Wednesday May 31, 2006 at Molloy Funeral Home in West Hartford, CT, from 11am to 1pm ,and his body will be laid to rest at 2:00pm in East Berlin, CT.
In lieu of flowers or other contributions, please consider making a donation in Dad's name to CARE. CARE is involved in numerous humanitarian causes that Dad cared about, wrote about, and often lended his perspective to. It would please him to know that his memory could help promote education, lessen hunger, and ease illness and suffering that, sadly, is much too widespread.
About CARE (from their website):
CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.