By Matthew Taylor
If there is only one thing Maribeth Collins will be remembered for, it will be her generosity.
Throughout her almost 99 years of life, Maribeth committed herself to the betterment of Willamette University and the Salem Community. In her five decades as a member of the board of trustees, she donated over 11 million dollars in personal gifts to the University, giving primarily to the College of Law and Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
“Maribeth was a visionary philanthropist. She always approached me with a simple question: ‘John, what is your biggest need?’” said Hallie Ford Museum of Art director John Olbrantz. “No director could ask for a better friend, colleague, confidant, advisor or champion.”
According to a statement released by the university, her extraordinary contributions to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art include the creation of several endowed positions, the funding of art acquisitions, the endowment of a fund that “helps organize a major regional art exhibition every two years,” and in 2007, the complete funding of a total “reconfiguration and renovation of the museum basement into a ‘state of the art’ support space where collections are stored, new acquisitions are processed and exhibition preparation can take place in a fully equipped workshop.”
“Maribeth transformed the Hallie Ford Museum of Art from a small college museum of art into a major regional institution that reaches beyond Salem and the mid-Willamette Valley to the nation and the world,” said Olbrantz.
Alongside her contributions to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Maribeth also heavily supported several projects at the College of Law, named for her late husband, Truman Wesley Collins Sr.
“Most recently, she endowed the Truman W. Collins Sr. Law Internship Fund, which helps law students pursue real-life, practical legal experience, especially in nonprofits and other public interest organizations,” a university statement said.
Aside from her contributions to Willamette University, she served in several significant roles in philanthropic and corporate organizations. For 30 years, she served both as the chairman for the board of the Collins Company, a forest products company, and as president of the Collins Foundation, supporting Willamette and the surrounding communities.
Both Maribeth and the Collins family will always be remembered by the Willamette community for their dedication to the the betterment of the university and the lives of the people it surrounds. Services will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Portland. A time and date is yet to be determined. The family has asked that those interested in sending flowers should instead donate to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art.
Maribeth died on Oct. 9. She was just a month shy of her 99th birthday.