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On June 9, 1936 a shining star was born to Mr. John W. Collins and Mrs. Viola W. Collins in Chattanooga, TN. They named that shining star Wendell Lee CollinsHe transitioned from his earthly home to his Heavenly home on Sunday morning October 7, 2018.

Wendell was a very happy child who grew up in the Summit
/Ooltewah, TN area and was surrounded by several aunts, uncles, and cousins with whom he spent a great deal of time.  He also developed a great sense of humor and loved laughter.


Wendell’s mother Viola was one of the first black educators in the area and encouraged him to embrace and appreciate the importance of education and knowledge and was his first teacher.  His father John was hard working and good provider. When Wendell was 16 yrs of age his father John passed away suddenly. Following this tragic event Wendell took amazing care of his mother and devoted himself to being very good student and loved learning.  He honored his mother by following in her footsteps.  This was the beginning of Wendell’s quest to become a greateducator.


Wendell attended Booker T. Washington School from elementary to high school.  Following graduation he attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, TN where he majored in political science and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He also became a member ofthe Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. where he focused on academics and community service. Following graduation Wendell was driven by his love of knowledge and desire to educate children and received his first teaching assignment in Pikeville, TN from there he moved on to Charles A. Bell Elementary School and then to Avondale Elementary School. 


After teaching for 7 yrs Wendell decided to pursue a graduate degree. He earned his Master of Science in education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1969. Shortly after receiving his graduate degree Wendell was promoted to his first assignment as an elementary school principal at Glenwood School. He was the first black principal at Glenwood.

Following his tenure at Glenwood he was principal at theCedar Hill Head Start program, Joseph E. Smith Elementary, James A. Henry Elementary, East Chattanooga Elementary, and retired from East Brainerd Elementary School after 35 years in education.  


Wendell was a beloved teacher and principal by students, teachers, and parents and devoted his career and life to teaching students to love learning and to excel academically.  He brought the “Reading Is Fundemental” program to Chattanooga and was instrumental in fostering reading at every school at which he was principal.In 2008 he was inducted into the African American Educators Hall of Fame.

In addition to his emphasis on education, Wendell was passionate about mentoring children and got involved with the Big Brothers-Big Sisters Association where he became president. He worked diligently to provide mentors for children and teenagers in order to set them up for success.

On January 24, 1961 Wendell met the love of his life Miss Inez Davis from Huntsville, AL.

They were married on June 25, 1961 and celebrated 57 years of marriage this year.

The couple was blessed with two children Wynette Denise(Wendy) in 1965 and Wendell II (Dell) in 1970. The closely knit family enjoyed a multitude of vacationsparticipated in various competitive sports, and worked along side Wendell in many of his volunteer efforts in the community.

Wendell dearly loved his family and anything that was fun and generated laughter. He loved boating, traveling, interacting with family, and gardening.

e spent countless hours boating on Chickamauga Lake with family and planned great summer vacations each year. 

Wendell was so very proud of both of his children and was at every event in which they participated. He served both as coach and cheerleader and they brought him much joy


After he retired from the school system Wendell loved gardening so much that he went to Chattanooga State University and earned a degree in ornamental horticulture and started a landscape design business Collins Landscape Design.  He built the most beautiful water gardens and ornate landscape creations. It was his passion and he always wanted to leave the earth more beautiful than when he found it. 


On January 26, 1999 in Minneapolis, MN  Wendell got new best friend. This best friend was his grandson Mark Anthony. PaPa as he was called spent countless hours playing with, and reading to Mark Anthony. They were inseparable. When you saw Wendell you also saw Mark Anthony.

PaPa taught Mark Anthony to read by age 3 and Mark Anthony helped PaPa with his gardening as well. They were best buddies until PaPa went heaven last Sunday. Oh how they loved each other.


On August 22, 2014 Wendell and the Collins family got welcomed additions to their family.  A wonderful son-in-law, Winston H. Gandy, Jr. M.D. and his 3 amazing children joined their family.  Wendell now had a new grandson, Winston III, and 2 granddaughters Winshanaiand Winbriel.  Winston brought his charismatic personality and loving heart and combined with Wendell’s they hit it off immediately.  Wendell dearly loved his son-in-law Winston and was always happy to see his new grandchildren.  In October 2016 Wendell and Inez moved from their home in Chattanooga to Georgia to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Inez, Winston, Wendy, Dell and Mark Anthony then took very good care of Wendell daily until his transition to heaven. 

Wendell was adored by his family and brought them joy each day.


Wendell had two other passions in his life his church and his fraternity. Wendell was a member of Thompkin Chapel Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church for 60 years where he served on the Steward board and then as president of the Board of Trustees.  He also earned a special award for attending Sunday school every Sunday for 12 yrs consecutively. Wendell loved The Lord and his church and worked tirelessly until his health failed him. 


The Psi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was also his passion. Wendell spent many hours devoted to community service and outreach programs sponsored by the fraternity and each Christmas he would host a Christmas dinner at a local nursing home to bring joy and the Christmas spirit to many senior citizens for over 25 years.  He would wear a full Santa suit with his big bag of goodies and visit friends, families, and the elderly every Christmas until he became disabled.  Wendell was truly a phenomenal person who never met a stranger and made everyone around him feel welcome, respected, and appreciated.  

That’s the reason we (his family) call him a “shining star”.  


Wendell was preceded in death by his father Mr. John Collins and mother Mrs. Viola Collins and is survived by his loving wife Mrs. Inez Collins, daughter Wendy and son-in-law Winston Gandy, son Dell (Tolanda), grandsons Winston III, Mark Anthony, granddaughters Winshanai and Winbriel

Half sister Eloise Redding, (Winterhaven, FL) Brother and Sister-in-law Mr. James and Mrs. Georgia Bearden(Huntsville, AL), Brother-in-law Mr. Addison J. Fields (Huntsville, AL) 3 nephews and 3 nieces and several cousins and a multitude of friends.


The Lord has another angel in heaven named Wendell Lee Collins.

Devoted Child of God, Son, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Friend, and Community Servant.

Mr. Collins will lie in state after 12 noon Friday, October 12, 2015 at the funeral home. The Alpha Phi Alpha ceremony will take place Friday, October 12th  at 6:30 pm and the family will receive friends from 7-8 pm immediately following the ceremony.  A graveside service will be held at 1:00 pm Saturday, October 13, 2018 at the Oolteway Cemetery located at 8819 Ooltewah Cemetery Road.  Arrangements by John P. Franklin Funeral Home, 1101 Dodds Avenue, 423-622-9995.

Wendell Collins
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  • Sunday, October 7, 2018
    Our staff will continue to keep your family in our prayers. We thank you for allowing us to serve your family.
    ~ John P. Franklin Funeral Home
  • Tuesday, October 9, 2018
    Wendy and family, We are so sorry for your loss. Please let us Chattanooga sisters know what we can do for you. We love you all and will keep you in our thoughts and prayers!!
    ~ Jennie & Shelby Rogers   Chattanooga, TN
  • Friday, October 12, 2018
    Becky and I met our friend and occasional luncheon partner at water aerobics at the Brainerd Recreation Center, where we developed a close relationship. Over the past couple of years, when his health prevented him from coming to aerobics, we kept up with him and were deeply sorry to learn of his death. His memory and our good times together ((he was always interested in knowing when and if we were going to have a party) will continue to warm us.
    ~ Larry and Becky Ingle   Chattanooga, TN
  • Friday, October 12, 2018
    Condolences to Wendell's family. I will remember Wendell as one of my son's favorite principals. As one of Wendell's colleagues, he always made me smile at CPS Principal Meetings. Loved all of his students and was a joy to be around!! He is going to be a wonderful 'Guardian Angel.'
    ~ Dr. Lonita & Richard Davidson   Chattanooga, TN
  • Monday, October 15, 2018
    Wendy, please accept my deepest condolences on the loss of your father. I pray that GOD keeps and comforts each of you during this diffcult time. James
    ~ Wm. James Talley, Jr.   Roswell, GA
  • Friday, October 12, 2018
    Sister Rosetta Bearden and Family - In times of such great sadness and loss, may you hold on to those things that cannot be taken away...your memories and your love. With much love you are in our prayers.
    ~ Union Hill P.B. Church   Huntsville, AL
  • Wednesday, October 17, 2018
    So sorry to hear of your loss. As the days go pass may you experience the love of our heavenly Creator Jehovah God as he strengthen you and your family to get through this trying time. (Psalms 83:18) Remember he loves your loved one also and has promised to get rid of sickness and death forever and by means of his son Jesus Christ, bring back to life our loved ones. (Revelation 21:4; John 5:28,29) Please accept my deepest condolence website for more encouragement.
    ~ Dolon Peete
  • Thursday, October 18, 2018
    Dear family members, so very sorry to notice that your dear one has passed away. May you all find comfort in the very encouraging promise at Revelation 21:4:"God will wipe out every tear from their eyes and death will be no more." For additional information and comfort from the scriptures please visit Tap on publications>magazines download and listen to Awake #3, 2018 Help for Those Who Grieve. Sincerely TL
    ~ TL