The recent passing of former Zebulon town commissioner Roy Collins marks the end of a long life dedicated to public service.
Collins was more than just an elected official. First and foremost, he was a teacher who molded the minds and shaped the lives of our community’s young people.
Collins taught math at Shephard School and later at Vaiden Whitley Middle School before his retirement two decades ago. He served as a mentor and an ally for other teachers that he worked with and he worked with students both in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. He was a sports trainer before it was fashionable to have one.
Later he joined in the political fray, not to take part in battles, but to advocate for improving people’s lives. He was, throughout his tenure, the only African-American serving on the Zebulon town board and, though he was not elected to serve just one segment of the population, Collins certainly was vocal in advocating for parts of the town – and, yes, they were mostly populated by black residents – that had been left behind when it came to infrastructure and quality of life improvements.
Collins’ methods were never demonstrative. He was never one to grab for headlines and he was quiet and reserved even when you spoke to him in a one-on-one setting. But behind that quiet demeanor, he was thinking, always thinking. If you asked him about something, he was educated on the issue and he had ideas on how to address whatever situation faced him.
With Collins’ death, we’ve lost an ardent advocate for all the people of Zebulon. We are all the poorer for his passing.