Violet Collins Dies; Aided Mother Teresa

By Yvonne Shinhoster Lamb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 16, 2005

Violet "Vi" Munden Collins, 90, a retired administrative assistant with the Washington archdiocese who fostered Mother Teresa's work, died May 8 of kidney failure at Manor Care Nursing Home in Bethesda.

Mrs. Collins met Mother Teresa in 1958, when her husband, a Foreign Service officer, was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta. She was there when Mother Teresa worked with just one other nun, during a time when it was dangerous to give to the poor on the streets.

"Going over there in the mid-1950s and seeing how destitute so many were, just human nature said you needed to help," said her son Gregory Collins.

"She and my dad found the nuns who were helping people," he said. "They took dying people off the street and took them to Mother Teresa, so they could die with dignity, as Mother Teresa said."

Mrs. Collins joined the Marian Society, the American Women's Club and the Time and Talent Club, which all raised money for charitable causes, including Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. She served as charity committee chairman of the organizations.

As president of the Marian Club, Mrs. Collins also visited institutions, homes and organizations when requests were made for financial aid. She also edited newsletters affiliated with Mother Teresa -- the International Association of Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, National Time and Talent Club and Missionaries of Charity.

Mrs. Collins left Calcutta in 1963, when her husband was transferred to The Hague.

In 1971, Mrs. Collins and her husband were appointed regional chairpersons of the National Link of the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa. In a private audience with Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1982, Mrs. Collins was selected as National Link chairman in the United States, a post she held for six years.

She coordinated the efforts of the more than 27,000 co-workers and wrote a monthly letter to the regional officers. She also maintained contact with the Missionaries of Charity houses in the United States.

A native of Schulte, Kan., she graduated from Wichita University and attended George Washington University.

In the 1930s, she was a briefing clerk for a lawyer in Kingman, Kan., and a social worker with the Kingman County Board of Education for eight years.

She moved to the Washington area in 1941 and worked for three years as a classification analyst in the War Department's Quartermaster General's Office and for two years in the Treasury Department's Bureau of Public Debt. For 10 years, she was a registrar at Thomas W. Pyle Junior High in Bethesda.

She was an administrative assistant with the Archdiocese of Washington from 1978 until her retirement in 2000 at age 85.

She was a member of the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Montgomery County Teacher's Association, the National Education Association, the Association of American Foreign Service Women, the American Nepal Society and DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired).

Her husband, Frank Collins, died in 1977. A son, Timothy Collins, died in 1995.

In addition to her son Gregory, of Fairfax, survivors include two children, Mary Dugan of Gaithersburg and Richard Collins of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

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