To open its regular meeting last week, the School Committee honored Collins with a reception and, after the meeting was called to order, a moment to reflect on his time in town through committee and public comments.
Kerry Costello, Andover Education Association president, taught with Collins at the high school before she became a school psychologist and a ranking official in the Andover Education Association — a union that spars with the School Committee during contract negotiations.
“We didn’t always agree, but that’s OK,” she said.
Acknowledging Collins’ athletic career, Costello likened life to being a marathon.
“You only win a marathon by dogged performance, by pacing yourself, by keeping your eye on your own personal goal,” she said. “Thinking that way, Dick, you were a distance runner, a marathoner.”
Town Moderator Sheila Doherty also commented at the meeting, saying that “everybody talks about how much you’re loved. I can tell you, from years and years and years of hearing Mr. Collins’ name, how much he was feared.”
“There wasn’t a student in that school who would miss a practice because of Mr. Collins,” she said. “They’d have to answer to Mr. Collins — but with that fear was respect.”
Sitting in his living room this week, dressed just as formally as he would for School Committee business, Collins admitted that he “was known for kicking kids in the pants.”
“Well, only kicked one or two,” he said, chuckling, “but I threatened it a lot. My punishment was running up the hill.”
With Collins now returning to retirement more than two decades after first entering it, he feels he still isn’t done. He’ll still be a frequent guest at school meetings, track meets, football games and the like — albeit from the stands instead of on the field.
“I’d kind of like to stay on. But I am looking forward to coming to meetings,” he said, “and watching from the outside.”