Known as a giving teacher, 82-year-old Dottie Mae Collins died Wednesday, three years after being honored as El Campo’s 2018 Citizen of the Year.
Collins’ sense of service was a family affair with both her husband Allen (COTY 1992) and her in-laws – Les (COTY 1970) and Lucy (COTY 2008) Collins – also earning the community’s highest citizen honor.
“Mrs. Collins was truly passionate in everything she was involved in. Family was extremely important to her, and it reflected through many of her volunteer efforts,” El Campo Chamber of Commerce President Rebecca Munos said Monday.
An El Campo ISD teacher, Collins taught elementary PE in 1965, then stepped away from her career to raise three children over the next 14 years.
Collins returned to education in 1985 as a high school history teacher for four years until transferring to middle school until her retirement in 2004. During that time, she coached freshman girls basketball and track as well as cross country track for both boys and girls.
She remained active in the Presbyterian Church throughout her life and was the first secretary of the El Campo Heritage Center.
“El Campo is a city of volunteers, and Dottie embodies that spirit fully,” 2011 Citizen of the Year Leon Macha said in his letter nominating Collins for the honor.
The 2018 Citizen of the Year didn’t try to stand out. She simply got to work, often for the young people in the community.
“Dottie is one of those people who quietly get things done, many things at the same time, quickly and efficiently, and moves on to the next thing while most of us are pondering the best way to do one of those many things,” said former El Campo resident and 2012 COTY Carolyn Goelzer.
In between, Collins helped with clubs, sponsored Washington, D.C., trips, Scouting with her husband, assisting at nursing homes and anything else people asked with over the years.
“She always had a twinkle in her eye and a smile for everyone who greeted her. Her caring nature was felt by just being in her presence. Mrs. Collins was a true gem, and I am so joyed she was honored for her heart of a servant, touching many lives through her many, many lifetime achievements,” Munos said.
Dorothy Bacak, known for her work with the Blessing Cup Food Pantry in the city, was another person making a nomination on Collins’ behalf.
“She is an awesome, outstanding lady who is ready to help anyone in this community,” Bacak said in her letter nominating Collins for the award.
From Katy, Collins, then Swogetinsky, graduated from Katy High School in 1957. She then enrolled in Baylor University, collecting a bachelor of arts in 1961 and a master’s in Education from Sam Houston State in 1968.
She and her husband Allen were married for 57 years. The couple has three children and seven grandchildren.
“Dottie has been one of those quiet volunteers whose name isn’t always on the front page of the Leader-News,” nominee Barbara Knudsen said, but added, “She is a devoted volunteer that has brought great benefit to the people of El Campo and Texas.”
For more on Collins, please see Area Funeral Notices on Page 11.