On an average day Tommy Collins can be found working up a sweat in his garden or woodshop.
His loyal chocolate lab, Lindy, is gray, and her joints are limited from arthritis pains, but she still hobbles loyally on the heels of her master and lays close by wherever he’s working.
Much like Lindy, Tommy has suffered some pain in his life, but he refuses to let it slow him down, and that is shown through his tireless dedication to public service.
He was raised in Boonville, and he left at age 16 to learn plumbing in Norfolk, Va. He lived with his uncle. He served as foreman on a construction site for military housing.
“I was making too much money and no time to spend it, so I came back to live with my parents and started working on the farm,” Collins said.
Collins soon met his wife, and when they married he moved out of his family home and went to work at Huntley Furniture. He learned to use every piece of machinery the factory had to offer and it provided him with some valuable knowledge in woodworking.
“I learned good enough that they had me running samples that they would put on market to show,” Collins said.
Collins said that he’s done a little bit of everything in his lifetime from plumbing to carpentry to farming. He said that his neighbor, who is also a preacher, suggested that he had never tried his hand at preaching.
“I said: ‘Yeah I have, I raised six youngins, so I suspect I’ve done some preaching too,’” Collins said with a laugh.
Collins also maintained a dairy farm on his property for 22 and a half years and would drive a truck for a company in Yadkinville until the summer months when he would stay home to tend to his cattle and raise his own feed and tend to the family’s garden.
“With six kids you about have to run a dairy if you’re going to furnish them all milk,” Collins said.
When he finished his time running a dairy farm he started working at a mechanic shop until about seven years ago when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was forced to quit to tend to his health.
Collins said that his diagnosis came nearly seven years ago after his children pressured him to go for a physical since he hadn’t been to the doctor in a while. His doctor found some high values in his blood work and eventually found prostate cancer.
Collins went through a complete prostatectomy and 36 rounds of radiation and two and half years of shots.
“I didn’t go whining ‘why me’ because if it hadn’t been me it would have been someone else and I could handle it just as well as anyone else,” Collins said.
When Collins isn’t taking care of things at home he is out and around Yadkinville volunteering his time with Yadkin Christian Ministries. He picks up and delivers food to the organization’s food pantry as often as he’s needed.
Collins also participates in a Thursday night exercise class at his church where he is the oldest one in attendance and likes to play guitar in his down time at home. He’s also trying to teach himself banjo.
“I played in the church band before I was married,” Collins said.
The most likely place you’ll find him is in his woodshop creating one of a kind bowls to donate to charity or to welcome a new neighbor, unique canes hand carved from wood (his favorite a can with a pregnant monkey carved into the side) and wooden fountain pens that he gives away and sells to airlines and local businesses.
Despite his struggles with cancer Collins has stayed positive and says he’s happy and proud of the life he’s lived.
“I reckon I’ve had a pretty full life and I’m hoping I’ve got a lot more left to go,” Collins said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.