When he wasn’t dancing up a storm, William Collins would settle in for a John Wayne movie or recall the days he played hoops with Wilt Chamberlain.
Mr. Collins played with Chamberlain at Overbrook High School. He then served in the Marines and worked in construction for more than 40 years.
But cutting the rug was his thing, his son said.
“He always loved to dance,” Joe Collins said. “We grew up in the area of the Philadelphia Zoo. That whole neighborhood, everybody knew my father. He was a sociable guy. He was well liked, well known, a sharp-dressed guy, and he loved to dance.”
Mr. Collins, 83, of Philadelphia, died Monday, April 13, at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in West Philadelphia of complications from the coronavirus. His oldest child, Karen Denise Kelly of Haverford, had died nine days earlier at Lankenau Medical Center, also of complications from COVID-19.
Mr. Collins, employed by John B. Kelly & Sons, was a hard worker, his son said. He loved sports, cheering on all his Philadelphia teams. He especially followed the teams on which Chamberlain played in the NBA, calling him “the most dominant person he’d ever seen pick up a basketball.”
Another hobby was watching movies.
“He loved watching Westerns and war movies,” Joe Collins said. “Once upon a time, he could probably tell you every movie John Wayne ever played in. He was the Duke.”
In addition to his son, Mr. Collins is survived by his wife, Linda; a daughter, Linda, and sons William Jr. and Jemiar. Sons Bryant and Octavious preceded him in death.