Mr. Joseph F. Collins, Esq

  • Died: October 2, 2019
  • Location: Topsfield, Massachusetts

Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home

Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home
167 Maple Street, Danvers, MA 01923
Tel. (978) 774-6600

Tribute & Message From The Family

Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Joseph by adding your memories and photos.

TOPSFIELD - Retired Colonel Joseph F. Collins, 66, of Topsfield, beloved husband of Elizabeth (Johnson) Collins, passed away Wednesday, October 2, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Salem he was the son of the late John W. and Margaret (Bradley) Collins. He was raised and educated in Salem and was a graduate of St. Johns Preparatory School in Danvers. Joseph continued his education receiving his undergraduate degree from Merrimack College and his Juris Doctor from Suffolk University School of Law.

A man devoted to his country, he dedicated his life to the service of others with over 30 years as a member of the United States Marine Corps. as well as in civilian life as a Criminal Defense Attorney and Public Defender.

A retired Colonel in the USMC, Col. Collins served overseas during the Bosnian Conflict and during the war in Iraq. A member of the Judge Advocate General, Col. Collins was known as an honorable, approachable, and steadfast leader, who was always willing to partake in any and all missions in which those under his charge were commanded.

Following his retirement from service, Joe was known as an honest, conscientious and reliable Criminal Defense Attorney. He was well respected in the law community and would often be recommended by his peers.

He was a loving husband, father, brother and uncle who cared deeply for his family. He will be fondly remembered as an avid sportsman, who enjoyed skiing, surfing, sailing and rugby. He will be deeply missed by his loving family, his many friends and the marines who he was honored to serve with.

Surviving Joseph in addition to his beloved wife Elizabeth, with whom he shared 32 years of marriage are his sons, John Collins of Tokyo, Japan and Martin Collins of Topsfield, his siblings, Katherine R. Collins of Medford, John B. Collins of Newburyport and Thomas Collins of Boston, his nieces, Susan Dwyer and her husband Ryan of Reading, Elizabeth Murray and her husband Kevin of Reading, his nephew Peter Collins and his wife Laura of Wakefield, his brothers -in-law, Wayne Dupont of Newburyport and Thomas Moran of Salem and his sister-in-law Martha R. Collins of Newburyport. He was also the brother of the late Judith M. Moran and Mary C. Dupont.

ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are invited to his funeral Mass which will be held in St. Rose of Lima Church, Park St., Topsfield on Monday, October 7, 2019 at 9 AM. Burial in Greenlawn Cemetery. Assisting the family with the arrangements is the Peterson-O'Donnell Funeral Home, 167 Maple St., (Rte.62) Danvers. In lieu of flowers expressions of sympathy may be made in Joseph's name to a charity of your choice. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please visit


Condolence & Memory Journal


Posted by Clements - Portsmouth, NH - Family   November 17, 2019

Rest In Peace Marine! Semper Fi!

Posted by Michael O'Donnell - Plymouth, MA   November 03, 2019

I am so very sorry to hear this news. Seeing Joe after the Manchester Road Race in Connecticut every Thanksgiving was a treat. I connected with Joe through my brother (retired USMC Colonel) and Joe's sister-in-law Nora, a sports teammate of my wife's at South Windsor High in CT. Even though I only knew Joe through the post-race festivities at the Manchester Army-Navy Club it was enough to know he was a good man who served his country ably and with distinction. My deepest condolences to the Collins family.

Posted by Jerry McGuire - South Windsor, CT   October 16, 2019

I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Collins Family. Colonel Collins was probably one of the best Marines I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. He was always calm, well mostly calm when things were tough, he always kept his sense of humor and always had a way of making the glass always look half full. I am thankful for knowing him and he will certainly be guarding those pearly gates. God Bless You All.

Posted by SGT MAJOR LINSCOTT - fredericksburg, VA   October 15, 2019

Posted by Heidi Linscott - Fredericksburg, VA   October 15, 2019

Joe will be missed but never forgotten. Father, husband, Patriot, Marine, rest in peace. Semper fidelis and God bless.

Posted by Kevin Kuklok - Loudon, TN - military   October 09, 2019

Semper Fidelis my friend. We'll meet again on the objective. Requiescat in pace.

Posted by James Sauer - Plymouth, MA - Served in the Military together   October 09, 2019

Dear Liz and family, I am deeply saddened by your loss. Words cannot help. You are in my prayers.
I remember the day Joe and Liz met.
With deep sympathy
Judy Tivnan Hall

Posted by Judy Tivnan - Sanford, FL - Friend   October 08, 2019

Rest in Peace my friend. You'll always be remembered by me and your family at the Essex Superior Court. Hugs

Posted by Marissa Furnari - Danvers, MA - Friend   October 08, 2019

I will always have fond memories of Joe. He loved being a marine, always had a moment to bring a positive view on life. Whether freezing cold above the arctic circle or in the field at Camp Edwards, Ma., Joe was fun to be around. I have nothing but respect for the Marine Colonel, the Lawyer, and my friend. I am a better person for knowing him. You will be missed.

Posted by Mark Wilson - Tega Cay, SC - military   October 07, 2019

An officer and a gentleman, of the very best. He will be missed and never forgotten by all who knew and loved him. My thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

Posted by Bob Ballard - Minneapolis, MN   October 07, 2019

My great honor to have Joe as a friend since the early 80's while on active duty with him and later the reserves. Memories of the good times we shared will live forever. He was one of the best, Semper Fi!, my friend.

Posted by A friend   October 07, 2019

My sincere sympathy to Liz and boys. Joe was a highly decorated Marine Colonel. While serving in the reserves, he volunteered on numerous occasions in far corners of the world in the true Marine fashion. Many do not know that he attended the Infantry Officers Course after the Basic School in order to enhance his Marine Corps skills with his Law degree for JAG duty. He was also Assistant City Solicitor for the last two years of Mayor Salvo's administration in the late 1980s. I can't say enough about him but the best experience I had with him was Lifeguard duty for the City of Salem at the Forest River Park pool. God bless you, Joe.

Posted by William Toomey - Wallingford, CT - friend   October 07, 2019

Posted by Lee Walden - Dayton, OH   October 07, 2019

My sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to Joe's family. I enjoyed working along side Joe as Trustees of VFW POST 1524 in Salem. I will always remember his friendly smile, welcoming handshake and congenial manner. Thank you for your service to our country and community. R. I. P. Joe

Posted by Robert Ross - Salem, MA - Friend   October 07, 2019

So sorry for your loss

Posted by Rayelle Sutherland - Beverly, MA - Friend   October 07, 2019

We were stranded at the Middleton House of Corrections due to some internal drama and began discussing films and the time flew by. Mr. Collins was a great man and a respected colleague. He had an amazing mind and I enjoyed every conversation that we ever had. He was generous with his time and wise counsel and we will miss him terribly.

Joe, Fair winds and following seas.
Semper Fidelis

Doc Stuehr

Posted by David J. Stuehr - Plaistow, NH   October 06, 2019

We will miss him.

Fair winds and following seas
Semper Fidelis

Doc Stu

Posted by David Stuehr - Plaistow, NH   October 06, 2019

I knew Joe through my bother John Lawrence. My brother loved Joe as a dear friend since high school. All I know is that Joe was always a good man and that says so much. Smart, kind, and so accomplished. I extend my sympathies to Liz and all Joes family and friends. Life cant be explained and we need to trust in the greater plan that God has for us all.
most sincerely,
Judy (Lawrence -DeDominicis) Kane

Posted by Judy Kane - Salem, MA - friend   October 06, 2019

I would like to offer my condolences to the Collins family on the passing of Joe. Whenever I would run into Joe in Court or on the street it was a highlight of my day. We would talk books, politics or, it would seem, any other topic. He always had something intelligent to say and he would always listen. We always shared a laugh. He was, as so many have pointed out, a man of integrity and honor. God bless and keep him. I will miss him.

Posted by Patrick Regan - Salem, MA - significant_other   October 06, 2019

To the entire Collins family I am so sorry to hear about Joe's passing. He was a remarkable man. I have so many great memories we shared every time he tried a case in my courtroom. He will be missed. Bob Murphy,Retired Clerk/Magistrate Essex Superior Court

Posted by Robert Murphy - Peabody, MA   October 06, 2019

We will miss Joe's contributions to the community. I have enjoyed every encounter with him. Thank you for your accomplishments near and far.

Posted by Joel Hariton - Topsfield, MA - Friend   October 06, 2019

I want to send my sad condolences to Joe's wife and family. Joe was one of the very best and I will deeply miss his friendship.

Posted by Andrew Benson - Amesbury   October 06, 2019

I'm saddened to hear of Joe's passing, a true gentleman and Marine. We had many laughs when I was assigned as the Police Prosecutor at Salem District Court.
Rest in my friend, Semper Fi
LT.David Richardson
Beverly Police Dept.

Posted by David Richardson - Beverly, MA - Friend   October 06, 2019

I'm not going to lie Joe. I'm going to miss you at our annual Marine Corps Birthday gatherings. Semper Fidelis Joe. I'll meet you on the other side. Meanwhile say hello to George and Warren for me. And the next wave I catch will be for you brother.

Posted by Ralph Fatello - Hampton, NH - Friend   October 06, 2019

Joe was a gentleman and a fine attorney. He always had something positive to say and had interesting insights on the law and life. I will miss you Joe. God Bless you and your family

Posted by Kevin Foley - North Andover, MA - Friend   October 05, 2019

Joe was every bit as fine a man, a husband, and a dad, as he was a United States Marine.

He is and will always be both sadly missed and fondly remembered by his marine brethren.

Posted by Jim McDevitt - Plymouth, MA - Friend   October 05, 2019

I cannot say Joe was a close friend, however the times we did meet he always impressed me as a few genuine and authentic guy who cared a great deal about other people. He figured out that I was in one of his lifeguarding classes at New England Divers probably back in the 1970s. He even brought me a photo the group hoping I would identify myself in the photo. I didnt find me in the photo. But , I did make a friend that day. Joe will be missed by many.

Posted by Rob Lutts - Salem, MA - friend   October 05, 2019

Joe, you and I solved most of the worlds problems in our many impromptu conversations at the Salem Y and also at Gulu Gulu Cafe. I'll miss those chats and I'll miss you. Thank you for your service as a Marine and to your community as an attorney.

Posted by William Legault - Salem, MA - Friend   October 05, 2019

He was a terrific, kind, gentle and sensitive soul. The legal profession lost one of the BEST! We worked with Joe for many years. One event that we recall, he was representing an individual who disrespected the American Flag. He stood before the Judge and requested June 14 -Flag Day for the date of the trial. The Judge refused that date said it was full. Joe and the Judge went toe to toe regarding debating the trial date. This went on for 5 minutes. In the end the Trial date was set for June 14th. Joe was the best!! Barbara Keon Dunphy and Michael Dunphy, Colleagues Salem MA

Posted by Barbara Keon Dunphy and Michael Dunphy - Salem, MA - Coworker   October 05, 2019

I'll miss your great stories, my friend.


Posted by Peter Ward - Beverly, MA   October 05, 2019

Such a wonderful man and mentor. All his kindness and words of wisdom will not be forgotten

Posted by Mike Bencal - SALEM - Coworker   October 05, 2019

Joe's passing leaves a huge hole in the hearts of many people in the Greater Salem community. After every one of our unplanned meetings/conversations I would think "that was great!" or "what a good guy!" or "He is brilliant!". He made the world a better place!!

Posted by Brendan Walsh Walsh - Salem, MA - Friend   October 05, 2019


Liz, John, Martin and Collins family,
Words cannot ever express the sorrow we feel for your loss. Our deepest and most sincere sympathies. It was my good fortune to have grown up with Joe. There was no challenge that Joe would back away from, be it his lifeguarding, surfing, skiing, Lacrosse goalie, rugby, becoming a lawyer and a Marine Colonel, Joe did it and did it with all he had. Joe always exceeded expectations, but in his quiet and humble way. If there was a photo in the dictionary of a gentleman and a scholar, it would be Joe. No truer friend than Joe, an extraordinary man. My great honor to have Joe as a friend. Memories of the good times we shared will live forever. Rest in Peace, my friend.

Posted by Dave & Mary Ann Jean - Amesbury, MA - Friend   October 05, 2019

I was saddened to hear about tour loss. Liz, John and Martin, I send my deepest sympathy and thoughts. May God be with you during this time and always. You are in my prayers.

Posted by Donna Johnson Carlson - Oakdale, CT   October 05, 2019

Everyone who worked with Joe in Salem Superior Court will remember his good humor, honor and integrity.

Judge Jack Lu

Posted by A friend   October 05, 2019

Joe was a man that other men aspired to be,but may not of had the courage to attempt.
Joe and his family will remain in my thoughts and prayers...ALWAYS.

Posted by Mark Kendall - Naples, FL - Friend   October 05, 2019


I don't know you Im so sorry to hear about your husband he is now resting in peace may god be with you and Your family you are all in my prays always remember the good times you had with him

Posted by Lorraime Butler - Derry, NH - Acquaintance   October 04, 2019

I'm so sorry for your loss. I worked with Joe for many years. He was an excellent attorney, and was liked and respected by all.

I know I speak for many when I say how much he will be missed.

Posted by Joann Hnat - Salem, MA - Coworker   October 04, 2019

What a horrific shock to receive this news this morning ! Joe's easy-going manner and warm smile will be missed @ the VFW in Salem, where he served as a Trustee. Only wish I had known him better and longer. Semper Fi, Joe. glenn

Posted by glenn steen - salem, MA - Friend   October 04, 2019

Our deepest condolences. I was just thinking of Joe this morning when I heard the sad, sad news. He was one of the greatest men I ever knew. Semper Fidelis, John Harding & Family

Posted by John Harding - East Longmeadow, MA - Friend   October 04, 2019

My deepest sympathies to the Collins family-I have known Joe from my earliest days in grammar school at St. James in Salem-Joe was a wonderful person who was most kind and thoughtful. I ran into Joe recently and we talked about our early school days and how we were both alter boys at St James-It was a pleasure talking to him about our past and about his life adventures. He was most proud of his wife and his children. Joe was a fine gentlemen and the world has lost a great one and heaven has gained an angel.

Again so sorry for your loss.

Patrick and Patricia Scanlan

Posted by Patrick Scanlan - Salem, MA   October 04, 2019

Family Album

Community Photos

Joe surfing at Nahant
Proudly and forever on display in my home.