Moriah chamber to honor charter member

PORT HENRY - For decades Rita Collins has preferred to stay out of the limelight while helping her community.

That's about to change.

Collins has been selected grand marshal of the 119th Labor Day celebration in Port Henry.

"She's contributed many years, quietly behind the scenes, to our community," said Jack Woods, Moriah Chamber of Commerce president. "It's time to recognize her. She's just a good, all-around person. Moriah's lucky to have people like Rita."

The annual Labor Day celebration will be held Sept. 5 and 6. The parade will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.

"I'm still trying to figure out how it happened," Collins said of her selection as grand marshal. "It's quite an honor, although I don't know what I did to deserve it."

Collins is the owner of the Collins Lounge and Motel in Port Henry. Her husband, Bernard, purchased the business in 1946. After their marriage in 1950, "Ben" and Rita operated it together until his death in 1969. Rita has continued the business since, raising four children - Deborah, Terry, Kathleen and Patricia.

"I closed (the business) for a week; I didn't know what I would do," Collins said of her husband's death. "I talked to the kids and they agreed to pitch in, so I re-opened and have stayed open ever since."

Born in Mineville in 1925, Collins is a life-long resident of Moriah. She has nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Wood noted Collins is a charter member of the Moriah Chamber of Commerce and has been active in planning and promoting past Labor Day and Champ Day celebrations.

"I remember I went to the very first (chamber) meeting," Collins recalled. "It was way, way back; I can't even remember when it was."

Whenever it was, Collins has been there ever since.

"We're very proud to have Rita as our grand marshal," Woods said.

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