Rev. Marshall Collins remembered as local legend

Rev. Marshall Collins and his wife, Mary Collins.

The late Rev. Marshall Collins of Northport is being recognized as a local legend in the History Center of Traverse City's 2013 spring Legends Exhibit.

"Loving, caring, dependable, man, just powerful," said Marshall Collins Jr. of his father, Collins Sr.

Words of which any man may hope would be said of him when his time comes to leave this earth.

Collins Sr. passed away last July at the age of 82, leaving behind a loving wife, nine children and an inspired Northport community.

"He was a big advocate for young children and underprivileged families," said Maddie Buteyn, Exhibit and Events Coordinator at the History Center of Traverse City. "Rev. Collins helped break the barriers between the different races that were living up here. The Hispanics, the Whites, the Blacks and also Native Americans."

Collins Jr. remembers his father having a big impact on their community.

"He touched a lot of people's lives, and it was people from all different races, cultures, backgrounds and he just did that by preaching the gospel," said Collins Jr.

Collins Sr. and his wife, Mary, traveled back and forth from Florida to Northport as migrant workers starting in 1969 and finally settling in Northport in 1991.

Collins Sr. started his ministry in his early 20s after joining the Air Force. He spent the first 50 years of his career ministering and preaching in 49 states.

In 1990, he became the pastor of Northport Indian Mission Church until he retired in 2000.

Collins Sr. and Mary left behind a ministry that was not only inspirational, but also unforgettable.

"It came to the point that if my parents were coming to sing and preach at a church, a lot of churches would take the flowers off the piano, because my mom would play the piano so hard you could just see the flowers bouncing and getting ready to fall off!, " Collins Jr. laughed.

While in Northport the family opened the "Nature Gems Rock Shop", which is still open today. It was inspired by Collins Sr.'s love and special connection to Petoskey Stones.

"He just said, 'Can you believe that our God created something so beautiful that can only be found in a certain part of the world, here in Michigan?'" Collins Jr. said.

The stone was used as a conversation starter with strangers that often led to talks about Collins Sr.'s faith in God.

Some may wonder if Collins Jr. will ever follow in his father's footsteps.

"I said, you know, 'You preach, I teach,'" Collins Jr. said. "'You know, you like working with young kids and I'm working with young adults and trying to instill something in their life too.' You know, I can try to travel in them, I believe my feet can fit in them, but I won't be able to fill them."

For more information about the spring Legends Exhibit go to the History Center of Traverse City's website.