GORHAM — Ardine “Tiny” Collins passed away Monday, Feb. 26, at the age of 89, at the Gorham House. Born Oct. 21, 1928, he was the fourth child of Vernon Daniel Collins and Esma Ross Collins.

No one knew of him as Ardine, instead referring to him by his lifelong nickname of “Tiny.” Tiny earned his nickname from his small stature as a child, but he has always been a large character in the Rangeley landscape.

Tiny lived his entire life in Rangeley, until advanced age demanded better care than the beautiful but remote town could easily provide. He was a proud descendant of the original settlers of Rangeley; his ancestry includes Lucinda Hoar, the first white child born in Rangeley, in 1818. He met, loved and married Marjorie Weeks, of Portland, in 1950, while Margie was teaching in the Rangeley elementary school. They celebrated 67 years of marriage last summer.

Tiny graduated from Rangeley High School in 1945. With the Collins family descending from a long line of carpenters and builders, he attended Wentworth Institute in Boston, returning to Rangeley following graduation in 1949 to join the S.A. Collins & Son Co. (S.A. Collins being his grandfather). Over the years, he built many, many homes, summer camps, resorts and businesses throughout the region, including Rangeley’s Post Office, Town Hall and Fire Station, the Rangeley Saddleback Inn and many others. Absent modern roads, there were many multiweek boat ventures to the shores of remote lakes to build the cottages that line those lake shores today.

Proud of the seasonal growth of Rangeley, Tiny would often take his family on day trips throughout the region to point out all the camps he had helped build. Later, after retiring, Tiny would make the same trips to see all the new homes being built in the region by the many younger carpenters who eventually replaced his generation.

Unable to build summer camps through the frozen winter months of the ’50s, Tiny and his brothers built the famous wooden Rangeley Boats popular during the time, many of which remain in use even today. In fact, upon retirement, Tiny made quite a living repairing 40- to 60-year-old boats that had begun to fail.

Tiny had the distinct privilege of doing what he loved — both his profession and his favorite hobby involved woodworking, and he built homes and furniture alike.

Tiny served as selectman for the town of Rangeley for many years and also served in many other elected capacities, having a strong influence in the town and its direction from the ’50s through the ’80s. He was a 50-year member of the Rangeley Entwisle Lodge of Odd Fellows. He was one of the founders of the Rangeley Ski Club, an early enthusiast of the Ellis Farm Ski Area, and was one of the early stockholders of Saddleback Mountain Ski Area. He was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, where he served on the vestry and as treasurer, and he was willing to do anything for the church, provided it didn’t interfere with his weekly round of golf.

Tiny also was an active and influential member of the Rangeley Rotary Club and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1997, for his enormous contributions to both organization and community. He started the Rangeley Little League baseball team in the late ’50s and coached the team for its first 15 years. Tiny had a way of influencing almost anything going on, and many landmarks and traditions of the Rangeley Region have his thumbprint on them in some way.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Marjorie (Weeks) Collins; his children, Deborah Kidder and husband, James, of Farmington, Tom Collins and wife, Beth, of Venice, Fla., Myra Williams and partner, Dave, of Oakland, Dean Collins and wife, Barbara, of Temple; eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his youngest son, Daniel; his parents; his brothers, Saul, Elden and Ronald; and his sisters, Marilyn “Mickie” Thibeault and Jean Bennett.

He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him and enjoyed his presence.

Ardine “Tiny” Collins

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