Dorothy Lee Collins (Hanks) died peacefully on the evening of February 9, 2023, in Rochester, Minnesota, at the age of 90. Dorothy was born on September 23, 1932, in the small town of Selmore, Missouri, and arrived as the fifth child of Claude and Muriel Hanks. Dorothy had a deep affection and pride for her parents and siblings; Eloise, Margie, Billy, Jane, Glenna, and Dennis, that persisted throughout life. As typical for that time in a rural community, it took all hands to milk cows, feed and manage chickens, raise garden vegetables, and cook for a large family, while assisting in their father’s business.
In 1950 Dorothy graduated from Ozark High School. During her senior year she was the artistic editor and illustrator for the school’s yearbook, and elected homecoming queen. On August 30, 1950, she married her Ozark High School sweetheart Russell A. Collins. As newlyweds, they moved to West Plains, Missouri, where Russell and his brother Deane had established a dental laboratory. However, just a few months after getting married and starting the business, Russell was recruited into the Air Force. After his basic training in San Antonio, Texas, Dorothy boarded an ocean liner to meet Russell at the Chateauroux Air Force Base in France, located 166 miles south of Paris.
Throughout her time in France, Dorothy admirably managed being a stranger in a foreign land and made the most of their opportunities. She became the secretary for the commander at the Air Force base; and on long weekends or vacations, Dorothy and Russell would extensively tour Western Europe, capturing their experiences on numerous Kodachrome slides, which they would share, enjoy, and revisit the rest of their lives.
While at the Air Force base, Russell was instructed in the art and science of restorative dentistry by a University of Michigan dentist whose hometown was Detroit, Michigan. This influenced Dorothy and Russell to settle in Detroit after being discharged, and by September of 1955 they established the Collins Dental Lab. In May of 1956 Dorothy gave birth to their first son, Russell B. Collins. Upon the encouragement of U of M dentists, Russell and Dorothy moved the lab in 1958 into the basement of their new home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dorothy gave birth to their second son, Douglas A. Collins, in 1959.
In collaboration with a cadre of U of M dentists and physicians they moved the Collins Dental Lab out of their home and became a primary partner in The Ann Arbor Professional Building at 425 E. Washington in 1962. Dorothy was a dedicated mother in supporting her two sons’ youthful passions and adult professions, a talented housewife, and frugal bookkeeper. She was the financial manager of the Collins Dental Lab until it closed in December of 2016.
Dorothy and Russell played key roles in their church by encouraging its growth and were crucial in financing and building Packard Road Baptist Church (currently Crossroads Community Baptist Church). Dorothy enjoyed singing, a talent she discovered late in high school and pursued as an adult in the choir. At the church she was an organizer for the quilting group that sold their art to raise funds for missions. After her sons left home, Dorothy enjoyed caring for the new infants and children in the nursery during the Sunday service.
In December of 2016 they moved from their beloved Ann Arbor to Rochester, Minnesota for the treatment of multiple maladies that increasingly burdened their lives. Dorothy was married nearly 72 years to Russell A. Collins before his death on July 27, 2022. Dorothy is survived by her sons Russell B. Collins (Deb Polich) in Ann Arbor, MI and Douglas A Collins, M.D. in Rochester, MN; six grandchildren; Alan Collins (mother, Julia Broxholm and wife, Cassie Walls), Melissa Goodson, Lindzie Swain, DVM (Anna Calderon, DVM), Sarah Clymer (Benjamin Clymer), Benjamin Collins, Jacob Collins, D.O. (Jessica Collins); and 12 great-grandchildren. A memorial will be held in Ozark, Missouri, where her ashes will be interred next to her husband at a future date.