Mary Evelyn Roberts Collins, the daughter of the late Riley and Eva Jones Roberts was born March 30, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The final chapter in her life concluded 7:30 p.m., September 7, 2020 at Wicomico Nursing Home following a stroke and other complications.
Approximately at the age of 18 months, her Uncle Fred and Aunt Susie Roberts, who were childless, asked her mother and father to let them keep her. They kept her permanently and raised her except for times when their occupations took them to another city. During those times, she stayed with her parents. She joined in Holy Matrimony to the late Marion T. Collins on New Year’s Eve in 1960 and became his wife for 48 years and 9 months until his death on September 2, 2009.
Evelyn was educated in the Philadelphia School District and the public-school system of Somerset County, Maryland. She graduated from Maryland State Teachers College, now Bowie State University in 1948. She took graduate courses at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Salisbury State University in Salisbury, Maryland. While in college she preferred to be called M. Evelyn Roberts. During her fifty years in the field of education, she taught in Somerset, Worcester, and Wicomico Counties. She retired in1983 and was appointed as the On-Site Coordinator for Adult Basic Education in Wicomico County and retired again in 1998.
For her tenure she received many accolades, plaques, and tributes from the Maryland House of Delegates, House of Representatives, the Wicomico County Board of Education, a citation from the Governor of Maryland and a Letter of Commendation from President William “Bill” Clinton. She received letters of Recognition from the Wicomico County Commission for Women for being an outstanding woman of the community in 1996. Evelyn was a member of the Maryland State Retired Teachers Association, The Wicomico County Retired Teachers Association, Bowie State University Alumni Association, and the Lower Shore Bowie Alumni Association.
As a child, her church membership began in Macedonia United Methodist Church in Dames Quarter, Maryland. She was the church pianist and taught arts and crafts in the adult Vacation Bible School. She affiliated herself with St. James A.M.E Zion Church in 1959. She served as a Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School teacher, Director and Pianist of the Youth Choir, Organist for the church Senior Choir, Personal Secretary for Rev. Dr. Charles H. Mack, and the church. For several years she served as chairperson for Annual Women’s Day and the International Festivals.
Evelyn authored several plays for the church for Philadelphia-Baltimore Annual Conference, the Buds of Promise, Women’s Day and was editor of the church newspaper, The Zion Messenger. She wrote a book entitled, “My Anchor Holds” and compiled other writings in a book entitled “Sacred Script”. Evelyn instituted “A Day of Concern” worship service under the auspices of the St. James A.M.E. Zion Pride Club and served as the Chaplain and Vice-President.
She was special Lay Assistant to the Pastor and wrote “From the Pastor’s Desk”, for Sunday bulletins and composed church resolutions for home-going members. She would rewrite the Pastor’s sermons in bold print so he could refer to his notes after his eyesight began to fail. She served as Lay Speaker on several occasions. Evelyn also served as secretary of the Scholarship Committee. She was publicist for the Women’s Day Book, the church Historian who penned “Portrait of St. James: A Legacy of Faith”, 1982, “Torchbearers of Faith: A 40-year Fellowship”, 1989 and “50 Years-Pastor and People”. The St. James A.M.E. Zion church library was installed and named in her honor, “The Evelyn R. Collins Library and she managed the leasing and utilization for the Mack Educational Complex. To boost her financial proceeds for Women’s Day, with the help of her sister, they held indoor sales in the complex which she called, “FASHIONS FROM PHILLY FOR FRUGAL FOLKS.”
Even though she referred to herself as the “ugly duckling” of the songbirds in her family, she loved music. Some of her favorite hymns were “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”, “Amazing Grace”, “I’m Just A Sinner Saved By Grace”, “From Youth to Old Age”, “He Knows Just How Much You Can Bear”, “Love Lifted Me”, “God Specializes”, “Sealed Unto the Day of Redemption” and “Way Maker”. When she found time, she would retreat to her living room and play them on her piano. Evelyn worked on the computer in her spare time and read constantly many available versions of the Holy Bible. Her favorite scriptures were. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8; Isaiah 40:28-31 and Romans 8:35-39. It was Evelyn’s determination that nothing would separate her from the love of God. She delivered the obituary at the homegoing service of Pastor, Rev. Dr. Charles H. Mack.
Loved ones who survive to cherish her memory and plan to meet her in that city over there are her daughters: Michelle A. Holden of Crofton, Maryland, Jacqueline D. Collins of Odenton, Maryland, Terri L. Collins-Swain and her husband, William Swain, Jr. of Rosedale, Maryland, Mildred Davis of Willingboro, New Jersey; one son: Marion Wright and his wife Mary of Dover, Delaware; and a special daughter: Rev. Barbara A. Gordy, Delmar, Maryland. Evelyn also leaves to cherish her memory, grandson: Michael Holden (Kia) and their daughters: Kennedy, Harper and Chandler of Richmond, Texas; granddaughter: Lynette Saunders (Robert), and their children: Jailynn Young and Robert, Jr. of Bowie, Maryland; Tina Riley and her son: Isaiah of Willingboro, New Jersey; niece: Rev. Dr. Bernadette Beckett (Carvin) of Princess Anne, Maryland; nephew: Samuel C. James, Jr. (Donna), son: Samuel C. James, III of Colorado City, Colorado, daughter: Shaneva G. Hurte (Gilbert) of Augusta, Georgia; nephew: Riley James Sr. of Richmond, Virginia, his daughter: Mikhal Hubbard (Chris) of Washington, D.C. and his son: Riley James Jr. (Ashley) of Richmond, Virginia; Christian buddies: Rev. Sylvia Ward, Fenwick Dickerson (Margie, deceased), Lois Wilburn and Dorothy Thomas; a host of other relatives, church family and friends.
Preceding her death were her brothers: Arfranklin Roberts, Lloyd Roberts, Arnold Roberts, Dick Roberts, and sister: Dr. Hytolia R. James.
Note: Jolley Memorial Chapel, P.A. will comply with the COVID-19 rules regarding masks and safe social distancing. Therefore, anyone attending the the viewing and/or funeral service must wear a mask.
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