Beverly Collins, a longtime registered nurse and hospital volunteer in Portland, died April 1 of complications of coronavirus. She was 83.

Mrs. Collins was remembered by loved ones Tuesday as a kind, intelligent and optimistic woman who dedicated her life to taking care of others.

Beverly Collins Photo courtesy of her family

“She was kind and considerate and always lived her life that way,” said Tim Collins, the middle of her five sons. “She would try to help out anyone she could. We grew up with modest means, yet there was always room for someone. She was always caring for people.”

Mrs. Collins was a registered nurse and worked third shift at Mercy Hospital for many years. In the mid 1970’s, she went to work for the private practice of Dr. Donald McCrann in Portland. He delivered babies and she examined expecting mothers.

When she retired in 1998, Mrs. Collins volunteered at Maine Medical Center. Her son said Monday she loved being a nurse.

“She loved taking care of ladies and she loved taking care of babies,” he said. “She would share all her years of experience being a mother. If we went to the mall and walked down the corridors at Christmas, two or three people would stop and say hi. I’d say, ‘Who’s that mom?’ ‘One of my patients,’ she’d say. She had a lasting impression.”

She was married to John Collins and the couple lived in South Portland, where they raised five sons. He died in 2003.

Her son shared stories about their early years Monday, saying she loved going to Sebago Lake to have a picnic and swim. Collins said his mother supported all their interests. He played football, a brother played basketball and another brother was in the school band. Collins said after a long day, they always sat down for dinner together.

“When she was younger and trying to do all those things, she’d say, ‘I’m going have them write ‘What’s for dinner Ma?’ on my gravestone,” her son recalled, chuckling. “Five boys could get rid of some groceries. She kind of spoiled us, too, with dinners. She always made sure everyone had what they liked.”

Mrs. Collins was also remembered for her unwavering faith and optimism. She was a two-time cancer survivor, beating thyroid cancer and breast cancer. Her son said she loved life and lived it to its fullest.

In retirement, Mrs. Collins spent winters at Horseshoe Cove in Bradenton, Florida. Her obituary said she loved golf cart parades, taco Tuesday and the Red Hatters.

In recent years, she spent winters with her son Paul Collins of Cape Elizabeth. She lived in Standish and spent summers on Sebago Lake.

“She absolutely loved it there,” Tim Collins said. “She would look out over the lake and say, ‘I think I see a bright spot.’ ”

On March 21, she was thrilled to learn she would be a great-grandmother.

Mrs. Collins was in good health until the end of March when she fell at home. The next morning, she had a fever. Her son said she was diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, and declined quickly. Paul Collins has since tested positive for the virus.

When she died on April 1, three of her sons were at her bedside wearing masks and dressed in protective gear. She was buried Monday at Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. Her son said the family was not allowed to attend the burial because she died of coronavirus. She was buried alone as her brother, Steve Pesce of Westbrook, watched from a distance.

Her son said he was crushed not to be at his mother’s burial.

“It was hard for all of us. In the big picture, I’ll still visit her anyways. I like to think I’m a person of faith. That was merely her body and spirit,” he said, breaking down.


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