Obituary: Helen W Collins, Scot who made a new life in the United States

Helen Wilson Collins, Girl Scout leader and knitter. Born: 31 July 1938 in Bannockburn, Scotland. Died: 5 October 2018 in Stoneham, Massachusetts, USA, aged 80

Helen W Collins

Helen W Collins, a longtime resident of Stoneham, Massachusetts, formerly of Scotland and beloved wife of the late Robert B Collins, died on 5 October aged 80.

Helen was born in Bannockburn and raised in Edinburgh, daughter of the late William and Anne Hislop.

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Proud of her heritage, she remained a citizen of Scotland despite living in the United States for most of her life. She maintained strong ties to her homeland, alternately visiting or hosting family and childhood friends each year.

Helen attended the Mary Erskine School for Girls in Edinburgh, where she met many of her lifelong friends. Following graduation, at the age of 23, she ventured to the US and worked as a nanny for a Bostonian family. Not long after, several classmates came over to join her.

Together they rented an apartment, found employment and discovered Boston’s social life. It was at the Old South Church Young Singles Club that Helen met her future husband Bob. Each year, this original group of friends 
continued to get together on New Year’s Day.

Helen and Bob raised their family in Stoneham. Widowed when her children were young, Helen ensured that Neal and Heather still had the advantages and opportunities to experience all that life had to offer and was determined to see her children graduate from college.

They travelled throughout Europe and explored nearly every US state by campervan and enjoyed many winters skiing at Loon Mountain, New England.

Helen was a Girl Guide/Girl Scout for more than 70 years. As a Girl Scout leader, she once travelled across the country by recreational vehicle – a coach with living quarters – with six Girl Scouts, two leaders and her children. She loved to ski and play tennis, and excelled at teaching both sports. A generous host, Helen invited many families to enjoy ski weekends and school vacations at her Loon Mountain condominium. She was a magnificent knitter – the more challenging the pattern, the more eager she was to tackle it.

Helen loved to share her talent and held knitting classes whose participants became close friends. She also treasured the friendships forged in her book and tennis clubs.

Helen was an active and faithful member of the First Congregational Church of Stoneham, serving as a Deaconess for many years.

Once her children were off to college, Helen was employed as an executive assistant for seafood firm Slade Gorton, then telecoms company VOLT.

She travelled far and often to watch Heather play volleyball in college and afterwards, including multiple Open National Volleyball Tournaments throughout the US. More recently, she loved spending her weekends watching her grandchildren on the volleyball court, soccer field, basketball court or baseball diamond. She would always be on the sidelines, watching while working on her current knitting project.

She was the cherished mother of Neal Collins and his wife Georgia and Heather Houde and her husband Scott; and wonderful “Granny” to Robert, Cailidh and Alison Houde and Jake and Dean Collins.

She is also survived by her sisters-in-law None Hislop of Scotland, Carolyn Gaffney, Nancy Maidrand and Charlotte Collins; brother-in-law Neil Collins and many nieces and nephews. She was the sister of the late James Hislop and David Hislop.