TUPELO - Billy Ray Collins, age 83, departed this life for eternal life from his longtime Tupelo residence on Friday, January 31, 2020. Billy was born on Sept. 5, 1936 in Winona, Montgomery Co., to W. L. and Rachel Lee Carr Collins. He graduated Winona High School and received additional education at Belhaven College in Jackson. He married his sweetheart, Bernice Erwin, in Montgomery County on Sept. 7, 1955, a partnership that spanned 64 years. A patriotic American, Billy served his country in the U. S. Air Force from 1957-1961 honorably discharging as an Airman 2nd Class with several commendations. He then spent 6 more years in the Air Force reserves. Billy and Bernice moved to Tupelo where they raised their family. He was the Manager/Agent for Railway Express for over 35 years. He later worked at Lowe’s Building Supply. Born with a clever personality, Billy served as the parachuting Santa in the old Sears Mall in the 1960s. He was the founding member of the Willis Heights Neighborhood Association and was responsible for the creation of the Tupelo lapel pin with the TVA arrow still worn by many locals. An outdoorsman, Billy loved fishing and hunting and motorcycle riding. He was a 32nd Degree KCCH Scottish Rite Mason. He was a longtime member of Harrisburg Baptist Church.
A graveside service will take place at 3 PM Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 at Lee Memorial Park in Verona with Bro. Dale Carr officiating. Visitation will follow the service at the graveside. There will be no visitation at Holland Funeral Directors, which is honored to be assisting the family in their time of need. Condolences may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Billy is survived by his wife, Bernice Collins, of Tupelo; 3 sons, Barry, Bruce and Ben; a son in law, Tim Brown; a brother, Ernie; his 5 grandchildren, Brandy Tamplain, Carrlee Rae Collins, Margaret Collins, Jack Benson Collins, and Abi Abel; and great-grandchildren, Arthur and Abbigail. He was preceded in death by his parents; a son, Billy Collins, Jr.; and a brother, Charles Collins.
Pallbearers will be his sons, his brother, Ernie, his son-in-law, Tim, and his grandson, Jack Benson.
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