by Warren F. Kenney
|Artie & Marie Collins at the New Philadelphia Church of Christ in the 1970s|
I met Artie and Marie Collins on a very hot Tennessee day in July, 1969. We had just moved to Lynnville where I preached during the last year of my schooling. Shortly after moving there Artie came to conduct a funeral for one of the elders. It was my first funeral as a minister. I was asked to assist with the service. I shall always be grateful for the help Artie gave me that day. Needless to say, I was scared out of my wits. The church building was not air conditioned, and the heat was nearly unbearable. It was so hot that the funeral director said he would donate the first $100.00 toward having air conditioning installed. They took him up on it, and that got the ball rolling. It was not long before cool air was blowing out those registers.
After the funeral, Artie and Marie came over to visit us at our house. We formed an immediate friendship. That friendship only grew for all the years that followed. We immediately started visiting back and forth as overnight guests.
Artie was the one who got me interested in the lectureship at Freed-Hardeman College (now University). He and I attended those lectures together for many years. I always treasured those wonderful times. Kay would go spend the week with Marie.
Marie had a sense of humor that could be best described as feisty. Her wit was very sharp. I told Artie at her casket that she was clever enough that all my scars were hidden out of sight. He told a lady standing nearby that Marie and I had a feud that lasted over 40 years. I enjoyed that “feud” and know that she did as well.
Marie converted Artie by living the Christian life before him. She was a wonderful Christian wife and mother. That could not go unnoticed by her non-Christian husband. They were married for 66 years, 55 of those years were spent in full time preaching. Their last full time work was with the Springer congregation. That work spanned 30 years, and was to be their last.
This lovely woman was laid to rest behind the Springer meetinghouse near Hohenwald, TN. Her body rests about a stone throw from her kitchen window where she and Artie lived during their 30 year ministry with that congregation. He had also served that congregation as one of her elders for several years.
I remember when the call came from Artie telling me that her health had made it necessary for him to quit full time preaching to move in with one of their sons. I was in a meeting in McConnellsville, Ohio at the time. When we hung up, I cried like a baby. He was one of the most effective gospel preachers I have ever known, but it all began with a sweet little lady who lived the Christian life before him.