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Shining the Light of Christ
Matthew 5:16

Reflections: Remembering Mr. Roy Collins

Written by Karen Brewer, Publisher

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Pat and Roy Collins in a photo I took one Christmas inside the Inn at Collins Ole Towne

Remembering the late Roy Collins today on the 10th anniversary of his sudden passing on January 6, 2011, when he suffered a massive heart attack and collapsed, at Collins Ole Towne, and passed within a few minutes. He was a good man who has been missed these past 10 years. 
I first met Roy in 1999, when I became the Editor of The Pickens Sentinel and he served on the Pickens County Water Authority, whose meetings I attended. Also during my time at The Sentinel, he would serve on the Pickens County Council, whose meetings I also covered for the newspaper, and he had been involved with so much more in our county in previous years, including having served on County Council in years past as well as having served as Pickens County’s Director of Public Works. He had formerly worked for the Clemson University Forestry Department and served for more than 45 years in the South Carolina National Guard.
It was at a meeting of the Water Authority in 1999 that Roy told me about Collins Ole Towne, a recreated 1930’s-era village he had built behind his home in Central, complete with a general store, schoolhouse, barber shop, and sawmill. (And he would build an inn and a chapel.) As I have always loved things of the past, and historic sites and museums, I visited Ole Towne and loved it. I wrote a story about Collins Ole Towne for The Sentinel in 1999 and would write several more stories about it through the years for the newspaper, as well as for Sandlapper magazine in 2004 before beginning my own publication.
I always enjoyed each and every visit to Ole Towne through the years, as Roy and his wife, Pat, being such kind people, were always a joy to visit, and I was blessed with their friendship through the years and always thought very highly of them. (When I started my own publication, they were so supportive and encouraging. Roy and Pat would buy an ad for Collins Ole Towne, and they would take copies of each issue to give out at their church.)
During molasses-making time in the fall, students from Central Elementary School would walk from their school to Collins Ole Towne to watch Roy and others making molasses and to taste the treat. Christmastime was always special at Ole Towne, too, and, when Roy and Pat's grandchildren were small, they would have an old-fashioned Christmas play in the schoolhouse.
During one of my visits to Ole Towne, Roy told me of his plan to build a chapel on the property. I had just started going to church myself, in 2001, and church was important to me, and so, each time I would visit Ole Towne after Roy told me of his plan, I would ask him if he was going to start building the chapel soon. He and his workers did build the Collins Ole Towne Chapel, a dream 40 years in the making, and it would be the final building he would complete, for, on January 6, 2011, just a short time after the chapel was finished, Roy had a massive heart attack while at Ole Towne and passed away. The visitation (receiving of friends) was held in the Ole Towne Chapel, the beautiful little church he built at Ole Towne.
During the Christmas season one Sunday afternoon a few years ago, I attended a Christmas service that Roy and Pat’s church held inside the Ole Towne chapel, which was decorated for Christmas, as was the Ole Towne hotel (inn), where everyone fellowshipped after the service. Afterward, I took photos inside and outside the chapel and throughout Ole Towne and was flooded with memories. I took a walk around Ole Towne and walked inside each and every building, and I reminisced with each step. 
As I stopped at the location where Roy and his brother-in-law, Bob, Pat’s brother, who has also passed away, made molasses each autumn, years ago, I could still see Bob stripping cane stalks, and I remembered the time I was there when students at nearby Central Elementary School walked from their school to Ole Towne to watch the molasses being made and taste it, and I remembered Roy and Pat giving me a jar of molasses to take home. I can still see those small children, even though they are no longer children, and I remember the excitement on their faces.
As I walked into the little schoolhouse, I remembered visiting, through the years all of those years ago, at Christmas time, when Roy and Pat’s small grandchildren held Christmas plays inside. Those grandchildren are grown now, but, in my mind’s eye, I can still see them, as small children, on the stage inside the schoolhouse, in their Christmas play, while we adults sat in the school desks and clapped for them.
As I walked into the general store, I could still, in my memory, see Roy standing there, as I had been in there several times with him showing me so many things he had collected through the years.
The buildings look exactly the same now as they did then. It’s almost like he just stepped away for awhile and will return.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Roy’s passing. It’s even harder to believe that 21 years have passed since my first visit to Ole Towne. To me, it seems like just yesterday.
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