May 30, 1929 – April 11, 2017
John Francis Collins Sr., of the Town of Lockport, an accountant, realtor and leader of the “Four Lanes to Lockport” campaign, died Tuesday in Briody Health Care Facility, Lockport. He was 87.
Throughout the 1980s, he headed the Lockport Highway Association, which lobbied locally and in Washington, D.C., for funds to build a continuous four-lane highway between Lockport and Buffalo to promote growth and development.
The group succeeded in having Interstate 990 extended to Millersport Highway, widening Millersport Highway to four lanes and getting the Southwest Lockport Bypass built from Robinson Road to Saunders Settlement Road in the Town of Lockport.
“John Collins was Mr. Four Lanes,” former Lockport development chief David R. Kinyon, who served on the Lockport Highway Association, told The Buffalo News in 2015. “Four Lanes to Lockport has probably had the greatest long-term impact on eastern Niagara County.”
For his efforts, Mr. Collins was named Citizen of the Year in 1984 by the Eastern Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
A Republican, he served one term as a Niagara County Legislator in the mid 1990s. His son, William J. Sr., currently serves in the Legislature.
Born in Stamford, in the Catskills, the youngest of five children, he came to Youngstown with his family as a boy. He left Youngstown High School and joined the Army during World War II, seeing combat in the Pacific. He was awarded three Bronze Stars and attained the rank of sergeant.
Returning from service, he graduated from high school and attended Niagara University, the University of Buffalo and Niagara County Community College. He later taught business classes at NCCC.
He worked for more than 20 years for Union Carbide, where he was a general supervisor, then started his own tax and real estate business, John F. Collins Real Estate & Accounting & Real Estate Development.
He became the largest independent real estate agent in Niagara County before he sold his realty business to Hunt Real Estate in the early 1980s. As a developer, he built the Woods Hollow subdivision in the Town of Lockport.
He continued working as an accountant after his son, William, took over the firm.
Mr. Collins also served as assessor for the Town of Lockport for six years and was secretary of the Niagara County Ad-Hoc Committee that oversaw a countywide property revaluation. He was a past president of the Niagara County Assessors Association.
He served for four years as president of the Lockport Board of Realtors and was a founding member of the Lockport Multiple Listing Service, where he also served as secretary.
Active as a Mason, he was a past master of Lockport Lodge 73, Free & Accepted Masons. He was a member of the Safari Club International and the Rapids Rod & Gun Club and a life member of the National Rifle Association.
As a big game hunter in Africa, the Pacific Northwest and throughout the U.S., he brought back numerous trophies, including an Alaskan Dall sheep ram, a grizzly bear and the African Big Five – a lion, an elephant, a cape buffalo, a leopard and a rhinoceros.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, the former Judith E. Murphy; two sons, John F. Jr. and William J. Sr.; a daughter, Nancy Amelia; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Prudden & Kandt Funeral Home, 242 Genesee St., Lockport.