Charles T. Collins, 92, died Saturday, June 20, 2015 at home with his family. A long-time Aspen resident, Charles, who was also known as “Chic’ came to Aspen in 1966 with his wife Janice and four children. He was the first consulting civil engineer in the Roaring Fork Valley when he opened Collins Engineering. For 40 years he provided structural design and engineering for many significant projects in the area, including the Prince of Peace Chapel, the Wheeler Opera House renovation, the Sports Complex at Mesa State College, and numerous commercial and residential projects and bridges.
As project engineer he oversaw the reuse of the old Carbondale SawtankBridge that was transported to Aspen, redesigned and restored to become the pedestrian bridge over the Roaring Fork River connecting John Denver Sanctuary to the old power plant (old Aspen Art Museum). He was also one of the first ski lift inspectors for the Colorado Tramway Board and inspected lifts for a number of the major ski resorts in the state. He mentored several young engineers who are working in Aspen today. Charles served 9 years on Aspen’s Planning and Zoning Commission and 8 years as a City Councilman. He was an early advocate for conservative and thoughtful growth and the preservation of Aspen open spaces. He led the effort to preserve the historic horsetrack in the west end.
Charles was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Bishop Lachlan High School in Manhattan. His early years were full — swimming at Rockaway Beach, street stickball and skipping school for Frank Sinatra concerts. He served in the U.S. Navy and was stationed on Attu in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska during World War II. He was injured and came to Colorado for the first time in 1945 to convalesce in Glenwood Springs at the Colorado Hotel and Hot Springs, which had been converted into a Naval and Marine hospital during the war. During that time, he made his first visits to Aspen. After his service he moved to Denver, married, and graduated
from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Fifteen years later, after vacationing frequently with his family at the historic Boomerang Lodge, he moved with his wife and young children to Aspen.
He loved Aspen and never underestimated the good fortune of living and raising his family here. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Janice Collins and their sons Michael and Patrick Collins, and daughters Karen Lenzi and Colleen Collins. He is also survived by grandchildren Collin and Brendon Lenzi and their father Alan Lenzi; Maurine Miller Collins and her stepmother Michelle Collins; Grace and Clayton Collins and their mother Leslie Collins; and Lilli and Tullis Burrows and their father Art Burrows. Charles was a loving and dignified man. He will be remembered for his integrity, his subtle humor, dedication to family and community, and his cozy cashmere sweaters. He was loved very much and we will miss him. There will be a family memorial at a later date.
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