On Wednesday, January 28, 2015 Olen Taylor Collins Ed.D., remarkable leader, educator, and friend died at the age of 66. He was born on February 27, 1948 to Della Collins Napier and John Collins at the Red Bird Hospital in Beverly, Kentucky. As a young boy he attended a one room school house where he was taught by his great-grandmother, Laura Collett, his father, and his aunt, Virgie Collett.
Surrounded by a family of educators, he soon began his own path towards becoming a school leader. From 1966- 1972 Dr. Collins attended Western Kentucky University where he pursued BA and MA degrees in Political Science, Spanish, and Education. After teaching in Franklin-Simpson High School, he returned home to become principal of the historic Red Bird Mission High School and Elementary School from 1975-1988. He provided leadership for provision of exemplary schooling for mountain students in one of Kentucky’s oldest boarding schools. He touched countless lives, built a new school building, and advocated for mountain children.
Collins left the area to continue his education and work in other school districts. In 2010, he returned home to Red Bird Mission to serve as Executive Director. During his tenure, he raised funds to preserve the Red Bird Christian School, reopened the dormitories for boarding students, and developed an international student program.
A few students remembered Dr. Collins fondly. Sydney, a second grader, stated; “When he came to school at lunch he (Dr. Collins) would stop and talk to kids at different tables. He always smiled at us.” Two students in Mrs. Smallwood’s fifth grade also offered to share their thoughts. Kylee stated, “Dr. Collins was a blessing to everyone!” Makenzie summed up may people’s thoughts with this, “He is the one who saved our school.”
In memory of Dr. Collins, the family requests that you consider a donation to Red Bird Christian School to help continue his vision: 70 Queendale Center, Beverly, KY, 40913.