Joseph Gerard Collins, 87, of Hendersonville, passed away Wednesday, November 10, 2010. Born February 8, 1923 in Roxbury, MA, he was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Mary Concetta Collins; mother, Annie T. (Farrell) Collins; father, Arthur S. Collins; sister, Gertrude V. Collins; brothers, Lt. Gen. Arthur S. Collins Jr. and Francis J. Collins.
Joseph was a graduate of Boston English High School, class of 1940. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1942. He graduated from Navigation School February 1944 as a 2nd Lieutenant and was assigned to the 450th bomb group, Heavy, in the 15th Air Corp and stationed in Italy. His plane was shot down 16 June 1944 over Hungary. He was captured and was a prisoner of war in three different camps, Stalag Luft III in Germany for 9 months, Nurnberg for 1 month and Moosburg for 1 month. In April of 1945, General Patton arrived and freed the American prisoners. He returned to the United States and was discharged from the Air Corp in December 1946.
Joseph married Mary Ciampa on June 14th, 1947. He graduated from Boston College, cum laude with a B.S. in Physics. The family relocated to New York in 1951, where he was employed by Sperry Gyroscope Corporation for 35 years. During this time Joseph was an active member of St. Pius X Church, Plainview, N.Y. and participated in parish confraternity as a president and a teacher. He also participated in running Pre-Cana Conferences and was a member of the St. Pius X School Board and the Holy Name Society. He was an Extraordinary Minister for 30 years and was awarded the St. Pius X Medal by Bishop Walter Kellenberg for services in the confraternity program.
Joseph retired in 1986 and relocated to Hendersonville in 1992 with his wife Mary. He became a member of American Legion Post 77, VFW Post 5206 and DAV. He was a member of the Henderson County Honor Guard for 15 years and was a member of the Immaculate Conception Parish where he was an Extraordinary Minister for 15 years.
He is survived by his sister Anna Carey, five children, Kathleen Heiss and husband, Gerard; Phyllis Kreek and husband, Andy; Mary Collins, Joseph Collins and wife Karen, Elizabeth Elfring and husband, David; ten grandchildren: Gerard Heiss Jr. and wife, Kathleen; Jeannine Duchnowski and husband, Wayne; Christina Abbatiello and husband, Robert; Diana DePasquale and husband, Justin; Kenneth Heiss, Kristin Baykal, Sarah Collins and Caitlin, Maureen and Allison Elfring; eight great grandchildren: Madeline Heiss, Hailey and Devon Duchnowski, Nico and Isabel Abbatiello, Mason DePasquale, Cole Davis, and Alara Baykal.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, November 20, 2010, in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel of Immaculate Conception Church with Brother John Salvas officiating. Military graveside rites will be conducted at Forest Lawn Memorial Park by Hubert M. Smith American Legion Post 77, Hedrick-Rhodes Veterans of Foreign Wars post 5206 and Disabled American Veterans Chapter 14.