Herbert Francis Collins


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GLOUCESTER - Herbert Francis Collins died peacefully on March 30, 2019. Born March 17, 1930, Herb was raised in Medford, Mass., in a single-parent household with his mother and three older siblings. His childhood was marked by the numerous jobs he held to help support his family. Herb played football and ran track at Medford High School. His football team won states in 1947, and Herb proudly returned to Medford High in 2008 to be inducted in the school's football hall of fame. Hard work, speed, and determination earned Herb an athletic scholarship to Harvard for track and field. His 100-yard dash PR was only tenths of a second off the world record at that time. Herb graduated from Harvard in 1955; and perhaps most notably, it was during this time in Cambridge when Herb met Sheila Sellew, his future wife of 57 years.
Fresh out of college, Herb served as a Marine Corps Lieutenant taking he and Sheila to the mid-Atlantic and South. They returned to Mass. with a young family in tow, and settled in Sheila's hometown of Gloucester, in 1960. Herb began his career in a variety of sales and marketing positions in the defense and electronics industry, advancing to a role as a marketing executive with Raytheon. As was always his nature, Herb worked hard. However, his professional career did not truly take off until he left the security of his job, ventured into a new industry, and started his own company.
In 1974, at age 44, with six school-aged children, Herb co-founded Boston Capital, Inc. From the humble beginnings of a one-room operation, Herb and his partner Jack Manning built Boston Capital into one of the nation's top real estate investment firms.
In addition to the success of Boston Capital, Herb proved visionary on an industry-wide basis. Herb pioneered and ultimately helped sustain a new industry in low-income affordable housing. Championing this cause became Herb's enduring professional legacy. In 1980, Herb co-founded and chaired the Counsel for Rural and Affordable Housing to promote the low-income housing development program as a means of encouraging private sector investment in affordable housing projects. Herb was instrumental in convincing Congress to pass the Low-Income Tax Credit program into law in 1986, and pressing for legislation to make it permanent in 1993. He later successfully led the fight to prevent the program from being phased out. Over the decades, Herb has counseled presidents, senators, and congressmen, relentlessly advocating for the benefits of these programs. Herb long saw access to affordable housing as a fundamental factor in helping level the playing field and creating opportunity for low-income households.
Herb was a founder, president, and board member of numerous industry associations, government commissions, and charitable organizations. Herb never forgot his roots, and philanthropy followed hand-in-hand with his success in business. Herb helped form the Boston chapter of the "I Have a Dream Foundation" and served on that group's national board of directors. He supported the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston, and helped to establish an Inner City Youth Scholarship Fund. Herb created the Boston Capital Foundation, which is endowed to support youth education programs and affordable housing in Massachusetts. Herb made an indelible mark on his local community as well. Faith was a constant, as Herb was a lifelong active parishioner at the Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester. He contributed his time and expertise to numerous local organizations including the YMCA of the North Shore, the Cape Ann Historical Society, Pathways for Children, and the Peabody Essex Museum.
Above all, Herb was most proud of and derived the greatest joy from his 57-year-long marriage to his wife Sheila, and his six children, 16 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Herb instilled in his family the guiding values of hard work, kindness, gratitude, humility, generosity, and good humor. He was a steadfast source of support and encouragement for his family's various academic, athletic, artistic, and professional pursuits. He liked nothing more than to be surrounded by his family enjoying themselves. Whether it be a dinner or a larger family get-together, Herb would often quietly smile, flush with pride and contentment. Herb had tremendous moral character; Sheila was the love of his life; and work, family, and faith were his anchors.
Herb is survived by his six children, Christopher Welles and his wife Lisa of Manchester, Mass., William Welles and his wife Michie of Rockport, Mass., Benjamin Shipley and his wife Betsy of Wenham, Mass., Julia Collins Moss and her husband Robert of Yarmouth, Maine, Matthew Alexander and his wife Jillian of Norwich, Vt., Abigail Collins Schibli and her husband Peter of Wenham, Mass. Herb is survived by his 16 grandchildren, Peter, Nathaniel and James Collins, Mika Collins; Hannah and Herbert Collins, Samuel Moss, Molly Moss Stokes and Abigail Moss Henderson, Penelope, Alexander and Oliver Collins, and Lila, Henry, Charlie, and Nicholas Schibli. Herb is survived by his one great-grandchild, August Moss. Herb was predeceased by his wife Sheila Sellew Collins.
The Collins family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the caring staff of Home-Aide Care Solutions and Care Dimensions Hospice.
His funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Our Lady of Good Voyage Church, 142 Prospect Street, Gloucester, MA at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow at Cruiseport Gloucester, 6 Rowe Square, Gloucester, MA.
A private burial will be held after the reception for immediate and extended family.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Herbert's memory to the YMCA of the North Shore, 245 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915.
Arrangements are by the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington Street, Gloucester, MA. For online condolences, please visit www.greelyfuneralhome.com.
Published on April 1, 2019
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2 posts

Carole Sinclair
Apr 09, 2019
Herb. I attended your funeral mass last week with a heavy heart, but I know you were smiling upon us. Both yourself and Shelia should be so proud of your whole family. My heart is still heavy but knowing you made such a difference in my life which I am thankful for. Rest in peace my perfect gentlemen. Love Carole
Apr 01, 2019
uncle herb