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COLLINS, THOMAS WAugust 8, 1940 – September 13, 2014

at the age of 74 years

With great sadness and despair, the family of Thomas Royden Collins would like to announce that he passed away at Bastion Place on September 13th after a long battle with cancer.  He is survived by his wife Heidi of 44 years, and his children, Susan Rioux of Blind Bay BC, Rob Collins of Vernon BC and Rick Collins of Prince George BC, and his brother Bob Collins of Owen Sound, ON, and numerous grandchildren.

Tom was born in Galt ON on August 8th, 1940, and had a very happy childhood growing up, spending most of his time outdoors exploring the Grand River by canoe, hiking the local trails, and playing his clarinet in the local marching band.   At 18, he started out digging ditches for the Union Gas company and then went on to get his gas fitter license, and then his electrical, plumbing,  and finally, refrigeration and heating.

In 1972, Tom and his wife Heidi made a trip out west to explore the Okanagan area and they fell in love with the scenery, climate and the mountains.  Two years later, Tom packed up his family and drove across the country in a red Volkswagen van to settle in Vernon BC.  He started his own air conditioning and heating business and then went on to work for BC Tel where he stayed until retirement.  Using all of his tickets, Tom built 2 houses throughout his life in Vernon for the family to live in, both which were designed by his wife Heidi who is a draftsperson.  He enjoyed being outdoors in his leisure time, canoeing a lot of the local lakes and rivers, hiking and hunting, as well as cross country skiing.  Tom was a brilliant jazz musician and had an amazing natural gift to improvise with his saxophone and clarinet.  He spent many years playing around the Okanagan with various musician friends and left a great legacy in Vernon by being an integral part in the creation of the hugely successful “Vernon Jazz Society”.  After retiring, Tom and his wife Heidi decided to move to Salmon Arm, BC in 2004.  He still continued on with his music, doing a little bit of teaching and joining the Salmon Arm Community Band, which he immensely enjoyed.   His most recent hobby involved fixing up a small sailboat, turning it into a lake-going vessel to explore the many large lakes in the region.  He spent many hours lovingly working on this boat and experienced beautiful trips exploring the shorelines of the Shuswap, Adam’s and the Upper Arrow lakes.  When he got sick, and was unable to do the things he loved, the memories of all his adventures sustained him and gave him joy.  Thanks to Dr. Kirkman, his long-time physician for supporting him through this journey, and to Nikki, his home care nurse from the get-go, for setting up everything to make him comfortable and for her ongoing advice and visits.  Thanks to all of the wonderful care aides – each and every one of you were so kind and caring.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Red Cross.  A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.