When Robert Collins was growing up in Three Rivers, Massachusetts during the Depression, he and his brothers would go hunting to ensure they did not go hungry. They built fires for cooking and for warmth. They caught fish to ensure the next meal for their parents and sisters.
This instinct to survive and to help others thrive carried through Robert’s life. He lived a quiet life with his wife Eulalia. Married for 63 years, the couple enjoyed tending to their large garden and spending time with those who shared a passion for a hobby of Robert’s: antique steam cars.
Their home brimmed with antiques that Robert had restored structurally, and Eulalia had painted and decorated. A carpenter by trade, Robert was incredibly handy, even completely restoring a used travel trailer so the couple could take a six-month honeymoon across the United States.
“They had a very full life between the two of them,” shared Robert’s nephew, Jim. “They could do everything on their own and were incredibly self-reliant, from growing their own food to building their own homes.”
In perhaps the most impactful act of his life, Robert and his wife Eulalia decided to create a bequest in their will to the organization that saved Eulalia’s life—Baystate Wing Hospital.
“During their marriage, Eulalia experienced multiple medical issues – some that were life-threatening – for which she received care at Baystate Wing Hospital,” said Jim. “They wanted to pay back to the medical community a sizeable financial gift to ensure that Baystate Wing would be able to carry on the great work that they do.”
Robert and Eulalia’s bequest allows the team to utilize the gift in ways that will make the biggest difference for patients and families.
Jim continues to share the praises of Robert and Eulalia’s foresight in helping keep quality healthcare in the community and ensuring that the pieces were in place to make this gift a reality after they were gone. The couple had connected with Jim and his wife nearly 20 years before their passing to express their wishes and asked Jim to help see that those wishes came to fruition.
“My uncle, through interacting with him in his final years, taught me how to age and how to prepare for death. And, that’s an important thing to be able to think about,” said Jim.
Robert and Eulalia both passed away in 2020. Their gift has already made a difference in healthcare for the community in which they grew up. A portion of the gift is funding necessary updates to inpatient unit at Baystate Wing Hospital, which will be named in their honor, and the remainder will be put toward the Baystate Wing Hospital endowment to provide lifesaving and life-enhancing care for generations of patients to come.
“I’m quite proud of my aunt and uncle for finding a meaningful way to pass on something of great value,” shared Jim. “If they had simply divvied up their assets and left them to their nieces and nephews, I’m sure everybody would have appreciated it, but that doesn’t have a lasting effect on the health of the community.”
Want to explore ways to make your own impact?
To carry on your values with a legacy gift? We’re here to help. Reach out to Kylie Johnson at 413-794-7789 or Kylie.Johnson@BaystateHealth.org to learn more. All conversations are confidential and gifts of all sizes matter.