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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 36
Year of Death: 2003

Lattie F. Collins III

Submitted by his wife

Lattie Collins was a volunteer firefighter in Donalsonville‚ Georgia. His birthplace was Johnson City‚ Tennessee. He loved Johnson City for its mountainous terrain and the visits home with his friends and family. He loved the outdoors and adventure‚ but second only to his love for spending time with others. Every time he went home‚ he would look up old professors from the university he attended‚ East Tennessee State University‚ along with the friends he knew and reminisce about the good times he spent with them. He loved his parents‚ Jeter and Lattie Collins II. When away from home‚ he used with pride his mother’s cookbook that she gave him‚ Where is My Mother Now that I Need Her? Every time he drove home to Tennessee‚ he would hum and whistle the entire last forty five minutes to his house‚ singing occasionally the words ‘Johnson City‚ Johnson City’.

Lattie loved to learn and study. He often began his days waking with a tall cup of coffee in a thermal mug to begin his day studying as early as 4:00 AM. He would begin the day inspired by new perspectives on whatever his latest subject of interest was and dive into the morning with great enthusiasm. Lattie began his studies as mentioned earlier at ETSU‚ where he studied philosophy. He then decided to attend Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta‚ Georgia. He felt a calling‚ but he struggled often with what that calling meant. He believed so strongly in mission work and being active in the community. He wondered if pastoring a church would allow him to minister to those who seemed to be in the most need‚ such as the homeless. He decided to take an internship in Mobile‚ Alabama at Government Street Presbyterian Church‚ where he worked with their homeless program. During that time‚ he met his wife‚ Shelley. He stayed in Mobile for several years‚ working with different homeless programs‚ and trying to clarify his call to ministry.

When he returned to seminary the second time with his wife‚ he was more clear about where God was leading him. He knew he wanted to pastor a church in a small town where he could be a more active part of the community. Two years later‚ he was called to pastor First Presbyterian Church in Donalsonville‚ Georgia. It was only fitting for Lattie‚ to become a volunteer firefighter. He loved his church in Donalsonville‚ and he enjoyed being a part of the community. His dream did come true. He was able to pastor a church and minister to the community by serving as a chaplain to the sheriffs department in Seminole County‚ heading up disaster relief efforts after tropical storm Hannah‚ and of course his service as a volunteer firefighter. During his time in Donalsonville‚ he also became father to a beautiful young daughter‚ Hannah Jeter Collins.

One is often left to wonder how he managed such commitments. Lattie loved every aspect of his life that involved others‚ whether it was carrying an elderly woman out of her flooded home‚ connecting flood victims with relief services‚ teaching a Sunday school class‚ or holding his daughter at the end of the day. The very week he died‚ his wife accepted the Seminole County Man of the Year award on his behalf.

Lattie will be remembered fondly by his friends who hunted‚ fished‚ hiked‚ or camped with him. Many have said that there lives were changed for the better for having known him. Friendship with Lattie brought joy to one’s life. His style of life and his passion for helping others‚ served as an inspiration to all of us. He will be greatly missed.

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  1. Lattie – we all still miss you here. Keep waiting for you to come bouncing in the office to talk to me after a rough 911 call. Keep a watch over us from above. We love you – and you will not be forgotten.

    – Paula
  2. I never knew Lattie Collins, but often I feel as if I should have. It is the admiration and love that his widow, Shelley demonstrates every time she writes about him, the proof in progeny through his artistic and sensitive daughter (as I know her through Shelley’s writing,too,) and the outpouring of appreciation and gratitude in response to any mention of Lattie Collins that make me know he was truly a man of God and, thereby, deep compassion. Today, I pray continued blessings on Shelley, their daughter, Hannah, and Kyle Griffin as they move forward together in perpetual grace and in loving memory of husband, father, and predecessor.

    – Treasure
  3. I remember Lattie…read this today after just returning from Johnson City this morning…thought it so timely…rest well.

    – Judy Breckenridge
  4. Lattie and his family were always a phone call away for anyone who needed them. They were immediately part of our community, our family and our hearts. I will forever remember his big personality, his laugh, and heart of gold. All of which shown brightest in his love for our church, our town and his family. His big smile shown so bright when he looked at Miss Hannah, oh the joy she brought him. I remember all the times he was with our family, prayed for us, prayed with us, baptized our children and brought our church family closer together. Forever in our hearts. Our dear friend –

    – Jennifer