It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I pass along the news that Admiral LeRoy Collins died in a tragic bicycle accident this morning in Tampa as he was on his way to row at the University of Tampa.
Admiral Collins had an outstanding Naval career, was a distinguished gentleman and family man, and one-time candidate for the United States Senate. He currently was serving the people of Florida as the Director of Florida Veteran’s Affairs having been appointed to the post by Governor Charlie Crist.
Admiral Collins had a passion for helping people, speaking the unvarnished truth — though in a very gentlemanly way, and giving back to his community. Though in his mid-seventies, he lived an active and healthy lifestyle — frequently biking and rowing before sunrise.
I have told countless people the last few years that in my twenty years working in politics, I have never been so privileged as to have worked on Admiral Collins’s long-shot U.S. Senate campaign. To me, Admiral Collins represented the best of what a political candidate had to offer: honesty, integrity, solid values, and a tremendous love for our state and our nation. Those characteristics are all too often the mantra of political candidates who will say or do anything to project a winning message to voters. With Admiral Collins, what he projected was real.
Admiral Collins was the son of Florida’s former Governor Collins who served the state in one of the most politically and trying times our nation has ever faced.
I share my thoughts and consideration to you today, and ask for your prayers for the Collins family during this tragic moment. While the coming days will be full of unanswered questions, and thoughts of missed goodbyes, the Collins family is strong and I know they will endure.
Florida has lost a fine public servant and he will be missed.
Good bye Admiral.