Nancy Q. Collins, age 96, of Marblehead died peacefully Tuesday, Oct. 3, surrounded by family members. Nancy was born in Joliet, Illinois, May 25, 1927, to Helen (Schaller) and Mark Quinn and was the second of four children.
From a young age, Nancy lived by William Shakespeare’s adage “all the world’s a stage” and carried it forward her entire life with her vivacious personality, individual style and acting skills. She attended Catholic elementary and high schools and was a proud graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University, another Catholic institution, where she appeared in a variety of stage productions.
While at DePaul, she met fellow student Richard (Dick) A. Collins Jr. and married him Oct. 6, 1951. They were together for 50 years until his death Oct. 3, 2001, and had four children, all born in Chicago. Nancy and Dick and their children lived in Cleveland for a time. While Dick worked in the newspaper business, Nancy was a drama teacher at Heights Youth Theater, a renowned professional children’s theater still in existence today.
Nancy and the rest of the Collins family moved to Marblehead in the 1970s when Dick joined The Boston Globe promotion department and knew they had arrived in their forever home. Nancy embraced the town, and it embraced her back.
She never missed an opportunity to take visitors on a tour of Marblehead –– in her later years in her Buick Sebring convertible –– pointing out its specialness. She was a member of the Marblehead Historical Commission, headed at the time by Dick, and a member of the Council on Aging’s board of directors, another role she relished. Nancy and Dick reinvigorated the Marblehead Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Her outgoing personality made it easy to make friends, some lifelong, wherever she went. She was welcomed into the Friday Lunch Bunch at The Three Cod and regularly had tea after daily Mass with another set of friends.
More than anything, she loved performing and was a proud actor with the Marblehead Little Theatre company and other theater companies on the North Shore. Her prized role was playing the queen in “My Fair Lady,” her favorite musical.
She is survived by three of her children, Nanette (Anthony Jachyra), Marietta (Roger Cowles) and Mark Collins and her daughter Adrienne’s widower, Peter Nieman; her grandchildren, Andrew (Katie) and Heather Nieman, Evan and Bella Cowles, Joey Roy and Peyton Collins; and great-grandchild, Axel Nieman. Her brother, Mark Quinn, and several nieces and nephews also survive her.
Visiting hours will be held for Nancy on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Eustis & Cornell of Marblehead, 142 Elm St. A lifelong and devoted Catholic, Nancy’s life will be celebrated at her funeral Mass on Monday, Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 85 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead. Burial services will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the St. Vincent De Paul Society for those in Marblehead who need assistance or, during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October, to Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Fund.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy for the Collins family may be shared at eustisandcornellfuneralhome.com.