Cy Collins died on May 22, 2008, in New York City. His devoted wife and life partner of nearly sixty-seven years, Madeleine (Maudy) Collins, passed away shortly thereafter. Maudy died of a stroke on September 3, their wedding anniversary. Cy and Maudy are survived by their three sons, Michael of Los Angeles, CA; David ’67 of Michigan; and Stephen ’69, an actor who works in New York and California; ten grandchildren (including Matthew Collins ’94 and Stephen Collins ’03), and two great-grandchildren. Cy’s father, Frank ’13, predeceased him in 1946. His great-grandfather, Thomas Gordon Grassie, was a graduate of Amherst Class of 1857.
Right out of Amherst College, where he wrote for the Amherst Student for four years, Cy was employed by the W. R. Grace Co. for two years. In 1942, he joined the airline called Pan American-Grace Airways (Panagra), where he worked until 1966. The next move was to American Airlines as vice president of public relations, which involved the coordination of air traffic in South America and the Caribbean. He retired from American in 1985.
During WWII, while working with Panagra, Cy was deferred from military service due to his aptitude for arranging the many complications of airline operations between different airlines and different countries. His government enlisted him in a variety of covert operations designed to frustrate Germany’s designs to gain dominance of commercial air service in South America.
In his own words, Cy left Amherst as a liberal, but after a few years in the business world, he changed to a conservative. Above all, he was a devoted Amherst supporter as shown by his record. At different times, he served on the College board of trustees, the alumni council, the Society of Amherst Alumni, and as president of the Class of ’39. He always supported the College financially and was a member of the Johnson Chapel Association.
Cy received recognition for his service by the governments of Argentina and Panama and from several chamber of commerce members south of the border. He held memberships in the Old Cove Yacht Club and the Wings Club and was director of the Police Athletic League.
Cy’s lifelong passion was sailing. He was an avid and expert sailor of small boats, sailing throughout his life in the waters of Long Island’s Peconic Bay, Lake Superior, and the Caribbean. At Amherst, Cy was a member of Beta Theta Pi, though he lived mostly off campus with classmates Willie Walker, JA Walker, and Gene Hurtz in an apartment affectionately dubbed “the Piggery.”
—Henry W. Seeley ’39
—David Collins ’67
—Stephen Collins ’69