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William M. Collins

October 6, 1936 - April 10, 2023

U.S. Veteran

Service Date April 17, 2023

Church Saint Therese The Little Flower Catholic Church

Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 16, 2023, at 2:00 p.m., with Vigil starting at 2:30 p.m., at Behrens-Wilson Funeral  Home.  Mass of Christian Burial will be on Monday, April 17, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., at St Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church followed by burial at Black Hills National Cemetery.

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William Martin Collins, 86, of Rapid City, S.D., passed away peacefully on Monday, April 10th, 2023, at Avantara North nursing home in Rapid City, S.D.


William was born in Rapid City, SD, to Martin and Lorraine Collins on October 6, 1936.  He grew up on Philadelphia Street and attended primary schooling at St. John’s Catholic School which is located adjacent to present day St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church.  As a youth he enjoyed playing basketball for St. Johns.


William served in the United States Navy from 1954-57, spending his time aboard the U.S.S. Woodson as a Machinist Mate Third Class.  Upon his return to Rapid City, William married the love of his life Florence Mary Fischer. In 1992, after 30 years as a boiler plant operator for the hospital at Ellsworth Air Force Base, he retired from civil service.   Furthermore, as a certified P.A.D.I. Dive Instructor, he co-owned Scuba Supply with family-member Mike Hall from 1971-2001.  The “Dive Shop” brought him much joy through the many dive trips abroad with family and friends.


William was a Rapid City boy at heart, enjoying The Hills to the fullest.  During the summer months, he was often found shirt-less feeding and talking to the birds and squirrels on the patio of the home he built on Nicklaus Drive.  In the winter, he enjoyed chopping wood in his coveted woodshed with coffee in hand. He was always busy doing something in The Hills – fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, hunting, scuba diving, windsurfing, and ice-sailing.  During his retirement years, most days he met up with Ron and Denny for a “workout” at the B.H. Senior Center followed by a bottomless cup of coffee.  William always held the love of his family, and all dogs, close to his heart.


William is survived by his wife Florence of 63 years; three daughters, Cindy (Rick) Fairfield, Tina (Rick) Wiese, Tracy (Vince) Pawlak; one son Wil (Shelly) Collins; 10 grandchildren; 5 great-Grandchildren; one great-great-Grandchild; two sisters, Janet (Skip) Levee, Lois (Skipper) Carpenter; two half-brothers, Richard (Rosie) Denman, Steve Denman; two half-sisters Kathy (Terry) Hansen, Pam McLaughlin. He was preceded in death by his parents, step-mom Betty, step-dad Louis, older sister Joanne, half-sister Jane and half-brother John.


Memorials may be given to Adult Day Center of the Black Hills.  The family of William wishes to extend our sincere thanks to the many doctors, nurses, caretakers, and church clergy who cared for him.

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