Jeremiah C. Collins died at his Bethesda home on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Ninety years old, he lived an extraordinary life devoted to faith, family, friends and the law. Born in what he called “the little hamlet” of Newark, New York as the Depression began, Jerry was a small-town boy with an insatiable curiosity and enormously generous heart. Having lost his own father at the age of five, shortly before the birth of his younger sister, Jerry learned early to be a caretaker, and he assumed that role with a great happy spirit. Even to the very last days of his life he would often say, “I’m a happy guy!”
A graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown Law School, he settled in Washington DC after serving as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Jerry Collins loved to tell and to hear stories. There is not a subject about which he could not say, “Oh, that reminds me of a story.” If you had been to some exotic place or met an interesting character, Jerry could say something about the subject while never making it about himself. His focus was always on others.
A founding partner of the law firm Williams and Connolly, he loved the practice of law and the courtroom, most likely because of the interesting characters and situations. Jeremiah Collins was a problem solver, and a man of the highest integrity, a beautiful combination. He taught young law students during many years as an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School. He enjoyed pondering and creating lessons to convey the intricacies of litigation.
The love of his life was Suze, whom he knew from childhood and to whom he was married for 52 years. When she died in 2007, Jerry keenly felt the loss, and found great comfort in living in the home they had lovingly made together. Commenting daily about something she had done or some picture she had placed, Suze was always present in his heart and mind.
Jerry leaves behind four devoted children and eleven beloved grandchildren for whom he prayed every night at dinner and by his daily Rosary. His day was always ordered around which Mass he would attend, usually 12 noon. Everything else – choosing his often colorful coat, tie and shirt for the day; reading Tolstoy, Dickens or some other literary Master; sketching portraits of interesting faces discovered in one of three newspapers read daily; listening to jazz music; taking an interest in the lives of all whom he encountered; and sharing stories during the cocktail hour – portray the truly unique character of Jeremiah Collins. All attest to the way his spirit filled a room, drawing others to him in order to shine light on them. He knew no strangers, showing concern for others to the very end.
His family, Laurie Quirk (Joseph), Fred Collins (Deborah), Jody Tennant (Don), Jeremiah Collins (Alexis); and grandchildren, Michael, Cassie, Noelle (Will), Alexandra, Brendan, Anna, Kate, Camilla, Cristiana, Caitlin and Sean (Erica) miss him already, but are full of gratitude for the joy and love he showered on each of them.
Jeremiah Collins will be profoundly missed, but he will live on in the lives and stories of those who knew and loved him, and there are many.
Due to current conditions, Mass of Christian Burial and Interment at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery are private. A joyful celebration of his wonderful life will take place at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Jerry’s memory to Catholic Charities of Washington DC, attn: Memorial Gifts, 924 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001.
Catholic Charities of Washington DC
924 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001