A Life Lived: Mack Collins believed in hard work and having fun

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
I’ve heard it repeated more than once: Age is not how old you are, but how many years of fun you’ve had.
Maxwell “Mack” Collins was 85 years old when he died unexpectedly Sept. 18 of COVID Pneumonia. The Wednesday and Thursday before he died on Saturday he spent picking beans. “Mack loved to garden and enjoyed canning the vegetables he grew and harvested…and he enjoyed giving them away,” said his sister, Phyllis Davis.
Mack canned whatever he grew, and occasionally would go to the store and buy bags of pinto beans and can them.
“He made sauerkraut — the best, and everybody on the Creek (Stoney) loved it as well as his apple butter,” said Phyllis.
Mack in his earlier years worked as a brick mason and on the side he enjoyed playing softball and baseball. “He was a fun person. When I was young I stayed with Grandma Collins when my parents worked. Mack still lived at home, and he always wanted me to rub his back and comb his hair,” said Judy Richardson, a niece.
In addition to laying brick, Mack took care of the brick ovens, and redid them from time to time. “He took pride in his work,” said Phyllis.
One of Mack’s favorite fun things to do was to hang out at “The Barn,” which used to be Red’s Store. As Mack would say, “We meet, whittle some, talk, and lie some.” After the store closed, they met in an old pole barn on Mill Creek, which had a stove in it. They always had coffee and snacks and did what they always did: whittle, talk, lie, and, of course, laugh a lot. That was Mack and his friends.
Phyllis said the crew met every night except for Wednesday and Sunday.
But, Mack was happiest when he was gardening and canning. “He then gave it all away except for the apple butter, and sometimes he gave it away, too,” said Phyllis.
“Everyone on the Creek loved his sauerkraut and apple butter. His kraut was always a pretty white. One of his secrets was putting two lids on the jars, which he said kept the water or juice from oozing out of the jars,” said Phyllis.
“He had a setup in his garage of two canners and gas-fired burners. He had water, a freezer and refrigerator in the garage. People would come from all-around to get his apple butter,” said Phyllis, one of two sisters he still had left. The other sister is Lyndal Lowe.
Mack survived his three brothers and a third sister, Thelma Taylor. His brothers were Jerry, Gary, and Donald Collins.
Mack and his wife, June, had one daughter, April, and two “adopted” daughters, Gayle White and Sarah White.
“Gayle always took him to his doctor appointments and tended to his health needs,” said Phyllis.
Mack and his wife were members of Blue Springs Christian Church. 
“He rarely missed a day that he did not come to my house. He was so much fun. When he left last Thursday (the last time I seen him) I said ‘I love you.’ And, he said, ‘I love you, too.’ And that was how it ended,” said Phyllis.
Mack Collins was one of those persons who never got worked up over his age or growing older, he just had as much fun as he could each day — something we all ought to