Kathy Chapman Collins was born on December 26, 1953, in Bastrop, Texas. She maintained she was the first born of identical twins, even though the birth certificate listed her as second. Her father was an educator, and the family moved several times before arriving in Pleasanton, Texas where Kathy graduated from high school in 1971. She and her sister were popular students, both named prom queens and Cowboy Homecoming queens. She then went to Baylor University where she majored in education.
On July 19, 1975, she married Andrew “Ace” Collins at 7th and James Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. They met on campus the first day of their freshman year, and they were friends several years before they dated. They were engaged a month after their first date in the summer of 1974 and were married for over 48 years.
Kathy’s teaching career took her to elementary schools in Penelope, Hillsboro, and Bynum, Texas, where she would also become the school’s principal. During her time in Texas, Kathy became an active member of the community, playing softball, racquetball, running a half-marathon, serving as Bynum’s cheerleader coach, and singing in the church choir.
Kathy received her Master of Education from Tarleton State University and later a Doctor of Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She finished first in her class, being named Outstanding Graduate Student.
In 2009, after working for the Center of Learning and Development, Kathy joined the faculty at Ouachita Baptist University. She would ultimately become the Chair of the Department of Education. Kathy quickly developed a reputation both in and out of the classroom for her energy, charisma, and investment in her students. She attended every academic event in football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis, softball, wrestling, and any plays, musicals, or recitals where her education majors played or performed. She also was a huge fan of the school’s Tiger Tunes and participated in the mud tug of war in Tiger Tracks. Kathy took her education majors to England, Scotland, Ireland, and across the United States. Her goal was to expose her students to education programs around the globe.
Kathy and Ace hosted a college home group at their home each Sunday night called the Varsity Diner. Over fourteen years, thousands entered their home from both Ouachita and Henderson State University. These weekly gatherings averaged 60 students and often exceeded 70. The students called her “Mom,” and she invested in them as if they were her own children.
Kathy was fighting cancer at the time of her death on November 5, 2023. No one fought cancer harder while maintaining her full schedule at Ouachita.
Kathy was preceded in death by her parents Jim and Royce Chapman. She is survived by her husband, Ace, her twin sister Karry Chapman, sister Karla Smith, and brother James Herbert Chapman, as well as sons Clint Collins of Little Rock, Arkansas, Rance Collins of Los Angeles, California, granddaughter Aidan Brown of Blacksburg, Virginia, and her chosen daughter Jazmyn Conner of Cabot, Arkansas. She also leaves behind many cousins, nephews, nieces, and hundreds of education students who are now teaching in classrooms all around the world, and her family of more than a thousand who were a part of the Varsity Diner.
Upon her death, one of her former students described Kathy this way, “Dr. Collins had a way of making you feel like if the world was shattering, it wasn’t falling apart, it was just falling into place.”
She was loved by all who met her and her light continues to shine in everyone she touched. Kathy was a woman who changed the world one life at a time.
The family asks that you remember and honor Kathy by giving a gift in her memory to Ouachita Baptist University’s School of Education. Please contact the Development Office at 870-245-5169 or give online at obu.edu/give .
Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, November 8, 2023 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Walker Conference Center at Ouachita Baptist University.
A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at the Jones Performing Arts Center at Ouachita Baptist University.
Arrangements are entrusted to Ruggles Wilcox Funeral Home, 517 Clay Street, Arkadelphia, Arkansas 71923. www.ruggleswilcox.com