Cover photo for Joseph J. Collins's Obituary

Joseph J. Collins

November 11, 1964 — January 4, 2024

Keene

Joseph J. Collins

It is with great sadness that we share that we have lost Joseph Julius Collins after he took his own life at the age of 59 on January 4, 2024.

‘Joe’ was born on November 11, 1964, in Norwalk, CT, son of the late Leo & Gloria (Krivos) Collins.  He graduated from Staples High School in Westport, CT in 1982 and began his public service career as an EMT for Westport EMS.  He moved away to college and graduated from Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, first in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and later with a master’s degree in business administration in 2001. While attending Franklin Pierce, Joe continued to be bitten by the public and life safety ‘bug’. He became a member of Student Security and the Campus Fire Department, which ultimately led to his becoming Chief of the college Fire Department during his Senior Year.  Even at his young age, his dedication and willingness to serve was recognized when the college recognized him as Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year for 1986.

During his college years, Joe fell in love with the Monadnock Region, and he made the decision to call this area his home.  Joe continued building his diverse and accomplished public safety career by earning his certification as a Police Officer and working full-time for the Keene PD, and part-time at the Fitzwilliam PD, gaining experience and knowledge and rising through the ranks to Sergeant.  While in Keene, Joe had also helped with the implementation and management of their K-9 program, an experience that would help carry Joe through much of his career and many challenges.  

Joe also continued to maintain his certifications as a firefighter and EMT and had assisted Keene FD and later the Rindge FD, and even found time to volunteer for the Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance for several years.  It was the combination of all of these agencies and his constant efforts to serve, and numerous, hilarious stories, like the one about his commandeering a boat to pursue a ‘bad guy’ with, that he lived true to the affectionate and accurate nickname of ‘Code 3 Collins’.

Joe continued to set his goals high, and in 2000, he was appointed Chief of Police in the Town of Rindge.  There he was able to continue his growth and gaining of knowledge of Police Supervision, Command and Management. Joe took this to an even greater height when he accepted Adjunct Professor positions teaching Criminal Justice at two different colleges.  However, he was still missing working with his canine officers.

Soon, Joe oriented his teaching endeavors to his love of law enforcement and was hired as a Training Specialist for the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council.  In addition to training new officers and recruits, Joe was also able to be an evaluator and judge for Police Canine Certifications, which evolved into his becoming a Working Dog Trainer at the NH Police K-9 Academy and Working Dog Foundation, where he trained and certified Narcotics, Patrol, Tracking and Explosive Detection canines.  Joe was so devoted to his dogs, he had developed a canine emergency care, CPR and first-aid training program. While originally only for Law Enforcement, it matured into a veterinarian recognized certification program for public and professional dog owners and lovers.

Not necessarily feeling satisfied again, Joe returned to the field when he accepted a position with the Town of Sunapee’s Police Department, and later with the Town of Newport as well.  

With over 30 years of combined Law Enforcement & Public Safety service, Joe had plenty of documented success in progressively responsible and challenging positions, always serving others and fighting for the underdog while sacrificing all that should have mattered more to him.  But he had also accumulated the weight of trying to cope with repeated and countless traumatic events. Retirement was solidly in Joe’s immediate future, as he faced his surmounting challenges more and more, often making the wrong decisions, and finding comfort in drinking too much, which led to increasing difficulties at home and amongst friends.

Joe made a serious effort to restart his life with attempts at sobriety, which also brought on one of his bigger accomplishments, with becoming an Explosive Detection Dog Team Handler with American K-9.   Joe and his k-9 partner were deployed members of the United States Baghdad Embassy Security Force, tasked with searching and clearing vehicles and packages entering the International Zone and the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, Iraq.

Upon returning home from Iraq, Joe continued to strive for sobriety and found a calling to serve others in a gentler way.   He began taking classes at Fine Mortuary College in Norwood, Massachusetts and became licensed as an Apprentice Funeral Director and Embalmer, first at Cournoyer Funeral Home in Jaffrey, and then at Fletcher Funeral Home in Keene, where he was enjoying the new challenges of a more professional and compassionate manner of service to families and many of his friends in the region.  However, facing the repeated experiences with trauma, loss and death again, resulted in more poor choices and more struggles.

Joe’s resiliency seemed to shine again, and not being one for staying quiet or still, Joe entered Security Operations as an Officer at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough and later at Windham County Court facilities in the State of Vermont.  But he found himself still yearning to work with his canines once again and wanted ultimately to find happiness doing it.  This led Joe to MSA Security which brought him to work in Houston, TX in commercial protective services as an Explosive Detection Canine Handler.  Joe was once again having the time of his life, training and working in conjunction with Houston PD with another K-9, checking the crowds and fans of the Houston Astros as they played their way to the world championship.

Most recently, Joe returned home to his beloved Monadnock Region, where he was beginning to reunite with old friends, but ultimately struggled to find the peace he was looking for through the fields of service he loved so dearly.  

Joe is survived by his cherished son Coleman, and his sisters, Karen VanBuskirk of Brewster, MA, Terry Croffy (John) of Fairfield, CT, Patty Cronin of East Harwich, MA, and Christina Collins (David Huband) of Toronto, Canada, and his brother, Greg Collins of St. Louis MO.  He also leaves behind his Great Aunts, Lorraine Milcarek of NJ and Evelyn Fitzgerald of VA, many nieces, nephews, and cousins, and countless friends, including his trusted and true friend, Tammy Johnson and her daughter Ronni, who he loved as his own, his former wife, Amy Collins, and many, many more.

At Joe’s request, there will be no calling hours or services at this time.  

A Celebration of Joe’s life will be held, from 11:00am to 2:00pm on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at the Cournoyer Funeral Home in Jaffrey, where family, friends, and of course, working dogs and K-9 teams are all invited to come together and share stories and support with each other.  Rev. Wilfred Deschamps, Pastor of Saint Patrick Parish in Jaffrey will begin a Liturgy of the Word at 12:00 noon, and will conclude with a tribute to Joe and his service to all.
Flowers will be welcomed, or in lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Joe's name to the Good Neighbor Fund, PO Box 486, Jaffrey, NH 03452. 

In true ‘Joe’ fashion, he always wanted to help when someone was hurt or in trouble.  We weren’t able to help Joe, but if he can help one more person, Joe’s family would be comforted greatly.  Joe’s accomplishments, and his struggles, have been shared here, in the sincere hope that if you suspect or see warning signs or are otherwise worried that anyone is even considering hurting themselves or taking their own life, please connect with them, and connect them to help!

Ask directly about any suicidal feelings. Talking about suicide is the first step to preventing suicide!  Let them know you care.
Keep them away from anything that may cause harm such as guns, pills, ropes, knives, and vehicles.
Stay with them and get a professional involved.
Offer a message of hope – Let them know you will assist them in getting help.
Connect them with help:
For an emergency, dial 911
National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:   https://988lifeline.org    988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline –
Call or text 988

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joseph J. Collins, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 1, 2024

11:00am - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Cournoyer Funeral Home & Cremation Center

33 River Street, PO Box 486, Jaffrey, NH 03452

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