Obituary: Robbie Collins

robbie SQA strong, bright, one-eyed light out went in Woodstock two Fridays ago, when Robbie Collins — who we not call “Robert!” — died at the age of 56, on March 14. His was a routine carpal tunnel procedure but Collins — a long-time cardio risk — took the chance and thus we’ve all been “robbed.” While friendships were of a vast importance, there were three beings absolutely central to Robbie: his rescued Great Pyrenees, Booboo; his sister Linda, and his ex-wife and life-long friend, Pekoe. Two of the three will tell you about him shortly…

The Collins kids were born in Albany — Robbie in ‘57. Their father, James W. Collins, was an Albany policeman and artist with “the gift of the gab” and along with their mother, Eugenia Yattaw Collins, (her middle signifying Native American origin…) removed the brood from urban confinement in ‘63, moving to Woodstock. It wasn’t long before she became known as “the hat lady” of “Jean’s Hats” — an indispensable part of Woodstock. Jean re-married another unforgettable town character named Artie Jackson. Artie eventually taught Robbie the electrician’s art, but first came a charmed childhood…

“Where do I begin to tell you about my dearest, most lovable brother in the whole wide world?” writes Robbie’s sister Linda. “To say we had the run of the town as children is an understatement. From the time we got up in the morning till dusk we were literally free as birds. Whether we played at the Rec Field or swam at Swim-o-links in Bearsville all day or set up lemonade stands at 2 West Hurley Rd — making the “big money” to splurge at day’s end on penny candy at Folk Art. Or in winter sleigh-riding at the Golf Course after shoveling snow in town on snow days…? This is how Robbie became the hard working entrepreneur he was. And how can you spend a hot summer day in Woodstock without seeing the familiar “Tropical Sno’s” cart he owned — now a fixture? Or maybe it was his flowing, curly blonde hair or that wonderful smile and charm that attracted people to his business. Whatever it was, Robbie loved people and people loved him and when he made friends he made them for life!


“He was dealt a tragedy and had his eye shot out from a friend of his pointing a pellet gun at him. I believe he was 16 — a time when young guys are full of ego…Robbie dealt with it the best he could, foregoing the glass eye and eye patch. He said, ‘fuck it if people don’t like the way I look…Oh well!’ He told me many times that Pekoe was the ‘Love of his Life’ — and that she admired the way he looked at life. He wanted to grow old with her, sitting in rocking chairs on a front porch. Their love for each other was amazing and there was nothing either one of them wouldn’t do for each other. What did they have in common? Dogs, dogs and more dogs! Robbie was pretty much never seen without his…and Pekoe promised Robbie she would take care of Boo, if he died. Robbie loved his Mom and always looked out for her…and stood by her side every day during her hospitalizations, even when the rest of us weren’t there for her. Even when he started to decline in health he never wavered and remained strong for my mother, me and his nephew, Brandon! He loved family — and family was, really almost anyone who knew him. Could Robbie make me laugh? He had the ability to improvise and at the spur of a moment, do imitations of people and skits. A couple years ago he did his impersonation of Alfred Hitchcock. I laughed so hard my stomach ached!”

“We were married — I think it was 1986 — in the front yard of the house I lived in on Wittenberg Road (Mitch and Gypsy Vinicor’s place),” says Pekoe Teves. “The ceremony was conducted by Sid Slayton in his classic Native American wedding ceremony. Officially, the marriage lasted six years and we were together for eight. He was zany — that’s a perfect word and when I first met him his friends described him as ‘Mr. Fun.’ His physical strength was due to the electrical work (apparently pulling wires is better than weight lifting!)…he did have impressive arms! People often asked the question about how we could be such close and good friends and the only answer that I can give is that we really loved each other and not being married didn’t seem like a good enough reason to not continue with our friendship. We met in Woodstock, at Deanie’s. He was quite gallant and brought me a dozen roses the day after we met…

“Here’s a story — Robbie had had a Great Pyrenees years ago and was terribly broken hearted when he died at a young age. He swore that he would never get another dog. I was involved in a Great Pyrenees rescue and was called upon to foster a dog in an emergency situation. They needed me to take the dog that day. Unfortunately, I was attending a funeral that day so I asked Robbie if he could pick up the dog and hold on to him for a couple of hours, which he reluctantly agreed to, insisting that ‘I am not going to keep this dog!’ He called me in a panic at the service as he had taken Boo to the Comeau for a walk and he’d bolted. We drove all around trying to find him and were finally called by the police and told that some kind woman had picked Boo up and had him in town.  We went to get him, I fully expecting to take Boo home until another home was found for him. Well, Robbie then told me that he was not giving him up and that Boo ‘was his dog now.’ They just adored each other and I know that despite the work of having a damaged rescue dog, their relationship was one that provided him with considerable happiness and joy. These past 5 years his health has not been good, but he maintained a happy disposition nonetheless. He had a big heart and a very loving and forgiving nature and a gentleness of spirit that was an inspiration to me.”

And to us all…

Robbie Collins was close friends with Alan and Ann Braun through Anne’s (deceased) son Steve Roberts, Sean Zimmerman, John Temme, Mel Ringstrom and Carol Ann Bernius; his nephew Brandon (Linda’s son), John Basil, Chris Basil, Ben Prevo, Tim Schultz, and the recently deceased Rob Carlson — to mention but a few.

Robbie is survived by Pekoe Teves, Eugenia Yattaw Collins (mother), Linda Collins (sister), Susan Collins (sister), James Collins (brother), Brandon Wolfeil (nephew), Bernadette Cody (niece), Elizabeth Cody (niece) and the Late Bernard Cody Jr. (nephew). Also, Great Nieces and Nephew.

Instead of flowers please send donations to Great Pyrenees Rescue a memorial service is being planned for some time in mid-June.

There are 4 comments

  1. Carolyn Biesele

    Robbie will be missed but not forgotten. The Woodstock gang that he grew up with will keep him in our hearts forever.

  2. Naomi

    Beautiful memories of Robbie Collins. I remember him from town and though I don’t think we exchanged many words, I recall that bright smile and cheerful disposition. May his memory be a blessing. Clearly he was dearly loved by all who knew him.

  3. Anthony J Gougoutris

    Words cannot express how much I cared for Robbie. He was a great friend, we always laughed, even in the toughest situations. We would laugh so hard, we cried. I am crying now, not only in sorrow at the loss of my good friend, but with the laughs we had. I miss you so much my friend, rest in peace.

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