Eva Mae McDonald Collins of East Hampton died at the Westhampton Care Center on Tuesday, December 3. She was 88.
Born October 22, 1925 in Southampton Hospital, to Charles Leonard and Mary Jane (Burke) McDonald, Ms. Collins grew up in the fishing village in Montauk. When the family home was lost in the 1938 Hurricane, the McDonalds moved to another location in Montauk. Ms. Collins spent her childhood in Montauk, attending Montauk Elementary School and living in the hamlet until she was married.
Ms. Collins graduated from East Hampton High School in 1942. In 1951 she married James Collins, and together they built a house on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton. They raised their four children there on the hill, but her heart always remained in Montauk, hence her love of lighthouses. Throughout her life, she compiled an extensive collection of lighthouses, and was especially drawn to replicas of the Montauk Point Lighthouse. In fact, her collection was once displayed at the East Hampton Library.
Ms. Collins worked part-time jobs during her married life; her first job was at the Amaden-Gay Agency, and she worked as a bookkeeper for longtime family friend John Defalco Builders, but her family always came first. An avid reader, she loved to learn and instilled that love in her children. She loved to talk and was an equally good listener. “Those excellent communication skills made her the hands-down ‘Jeopardy’ champion of the family,” according to Patty Collins Sales, her daughter.
Knitting was a passion of hers, and Ms. Collins was so skilled, she could knit without looking. “I knit for love, not money,” family members recall her saying.
She was a devout Catholic, and church was a very important part of her life.
Ms. Collins leaves behind two sisters, Frances Ecker of Montauk and Celina Seitz of East Hampton. Her four children, Jim Collins Jr. and Laurie of Southampton, Chuck Collins and Ellen of East Hampton, Patty Collins Sales and Tony of East Hampton, and Teresa Collins of Amagansett, also survive, as do her grandchildren, who called her Nana, James Collins III, Patrick Collins and Chrissy, Tara Ann Collins, Charlie Collins, Bill Collins, Molly Sales and Becca Sales, and a great-grandson, Patrick Collins Jr. A large extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.
Ms. Collins was predeceased by her husband, Jim, in 1986, and by a brother, Vincent McDonald. Her beloved grandson, Gregg Lee Rickards, died in 2012.
Funeral services were held December 9 at Most Holy Trinity Church in East Hampton, with family friend Msgr. Charles Guarino officiating. Interment followed at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in East Hampton.
Memorial donations may be made to the Westhampton Care Center, the Montauk Food Pantry, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, In Jordan’s Honor or to a charity of choice.