Robert Collins, 72, known for his work ethic and his cologne

Posted: July 31, 2014

WHEN YOU'RE one of 13 children, who needs friends?

Robert Collins had a built-in playground with all those siblings. Maybe there was a problem when more than one had to use the bathroom, but basically all the brothers and sisters got along and enjoyed one another as playmates.

Robert was the 10th of the 13 children of Jeannette Collins and Henry Stokes, and grew up in West Philadelphia.

A man of many talents and interests, Robert was employed for 25 years by the international real-estate company Tishman Speyer, working in engineering on the Bala Plaza complex in Bala Cynwyd.

He died on July 19 after a long battle with cancer. He was 72 and lived in West Philadelphia.

Robert graduated from Simon Gratz High School and later studied welding at the Welder Training and Testing Institute.

He was baptized at Thankful Baptist Church.

At Tishman Speyer, Robert was renowned for his work ethic, punctuality, natty attire and the rich scent of his cologne. "He was the smell-good man," said his wife, the former Wanda Carroll.

Robert had expensive tastes in cologne, favoring scents from Bond No. 9 and Creed. "They smelled marvelous," his wife said.

His associates told Wanda that "we knew when he was coming; we knew when he was here."

Robert liked to keep in shape by boxing at local gyms, including Joe Frazier's, and kept his weightlifting equipment in a backyard health center of his own making.

For relaxation, he enjoyed taking a boat out of Mays Landing or Ocean City for deep-sea fishing. The family has a photo of one of his prize catches, a husky striper that Wanda cooked and served for dinner.

"It was delicious," she said.

Robert liked to keep up with current events, and was a devoted reader of the Daily News. "He was told he could read it on his phone, but he wouldn't hear of it," Wanda said. "He liked to hold the paper."

His wife said Robert was distressed by the violence in the world, and wished there could be peace. But his laid-back nature prevented him from getting too upset.

The election of Barack Obama as the country's first black president was "celebrated with great excitement," Wanda said.

Robert read other publications and books, and his vocabulary developed to the extent that he was a whiz at the word game Scrabble, and he liked to challenge friends and family to matches.

Robert and his wife - "the one true love of his life" - were together more than 31 years, but married on July 31, 1993.

He and his wife had a great fondness for rottweiler dogs. They had eight over the years, and their latest, Princess, survives him.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Forrest Carroll and Ronald Corbitt; two daughters, Robin Collins and Ladora Johnson; two brothers, James and Clarence Collins; three sisters, Margaret Davis, Betty Maiden and Ann Oates; and seven grandchildren.

Services: Burial was at Westminster Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

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