Alfred Collins

Alfred William Collins

Saturday, November 28th, 1936 - Sunday, April 12th, 2020
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Alfred William Collins “Alf”
November 28, 1936 – April 12, 2020
We mourn the death of Alf Collins, who died on April 12, 2020 from complications of Alzheimer’s. Alf was a kind, sweet and loving man with a zest for life that enveloped his family and friends. Alf is survived by Shirley Collins, his beloved wife of 51 years and his three children, Kelly (Richard), Kerry, and Patrick (Kimberly) Collins. He loved his four grandchildren Melissa (Brian), Suzanna (Paul), Mikaela (Dave), and Maria and five great grandchildren (Cameron, William, Elizabeth, Jonathan, and John). Every dog he met found a place on his lap.
Alf was born in Berkeley California to Alfred P. and Ruth Collins. He graduated in 1958 from St Mary’s College in Moraga, California with a degree in English. Alf loved writing and made a career in newspaper journalism, starting at the Modesto Bee and then at the Seattle Times. In his 20 years at the Seattle Time, Alf wrote a variety of columns from Odd Parcels, about real estate happenings in Seattle to City Gritty about Seattle nonprofit organizations and Fast and Fresh which highlighted restaurant news. Alf’s proudest accomplishment was to create Saturday’s Child, a weekly column to introduce special needs children hoping for adoptive homes. Through his journalism, Alf was a champion of the underdog. He gave women’s issues a voice in the newspaper and helped the Friends of the Market campaign shine a light on the forgotten people who lived in the Pike Place Market.
Alf started an entrepreneurial newsletter, Professional Agenda, with the intent of keeping professionals in different businesses informed of happenings of mutual interest and benefit. He also wrote the copy for the Sur La Table catalogues.
Among Alf’s community service accomplishments, he was appointed to the Pike Place Historical Commission by former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, he was the executive for Allied Arts Foundation, and served on the board of Food Lifeline. Alf and Shirley retired to live and garden on Whidbey Island.
Alf’s curiosity and caring about people and places is what made him not only a great journalist, but also wonderful companion, friend, and father. His sense of humor was renowned and he was not satisfied until everyone in the room groaned over his puns. He was a wicked cribbage player and made sure all of his children and grandchildren knew how to play the game so that he could beat them. His day did not start until he had read three newspapers and completed the crossword puzzles.
No services are planned at this time. Family and friends are encouraged to share memories and condolences at

Memorial donations may be made to Food Lifeline at
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Kerry Collins

Posted at 01:32am
My Dad was so many things. He was a loving husband, he was a talented journalist, he was a loving father from afar, he was a proud alumnus of Saint Mary's College, he was a brother and a son.
Most of all, he was my Dad, I always greeted him with the phrase, "Hello Pop, you old dust mop", which came from one of my favorite authors, Shirley Jackson. I explained the origin of this phrase to Dad, and he liked it very much. For over 20 years, it became our catchphrase.

I have some very dim memories of my Dad being there before my Mom and Dad separated. I remember when my Dad drove down from Seattle to take his three children to Disneyland. Looking back, I realize just how brave he was, we were not the easiest children to deal with. Was it 1968?

My most vivid memories of my Dad area associated with the Irish Community in Seattle. He was integral to the Irish community in Seattle going back to the 1970s.
Along with another crazy Irishman, he started the tradition of laying the green stripe down 6th Ave the night before Saint Patrick's Day. This went from a 2 man job to a city-sanctioned tradition. When I moved to Seattle, I joined him in this tradition. We marched in the Parade for several years.
He supported Irish owned businesses. When Kell's Irish Restaurant opened in the Pike Place Market, it was a hidden gem. After a review from my Dad, Kell's was on the map


dee mcquesten

Posted at 05:18pm
Dear Shirley:

I was stunned to read in the paper Alf had Graduated and moved on to Heaven!....what a dear fellow he was and what a privilege it was for those of us who only even had a cursory level acquaintance with him. I'm so glad I did. I think of you often and hope you and all your children and grandchildren are well....xoxoxoxoxo.....dee mcquesten

Shirley Collins

Posted at 01:52pm
Alf Collins
To know Alf Collins was to love him. I first got to know him when we were rival columnists, he at the Seattle Times, me at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He was one of the Times' secret weapons, not only writing a topical column about the city, but also reviewing restaurants, covering local happenings and dishing on celebrities and politicians.
We often competed for a single column item to see who could scoop whom. The score was pretty even, although Alf had more sources in the food industry. How could he not? He and his wife Shirley were owners of Sur la Table, the Pike Place Market cookware store that single-handedly dragged Seattle into the culinary world. It was Alf and Shirley who played host to visiting culinary lions like Julia Child.
It was Alf who first introduced me, a sometime restaurant critic, to some of the city's finest dining rooms, places like Kasper's, Wild Ginger, Maxmilien's, Place Pigalle and Shiro's. A meal with Alf was not only a gourmet treat, it also would be punctuated with one liners. It was Alf who described ikura, a seaweed-wrapped salmon roe, as "A delicacy in Tokyo, bait in Ballard."
By the time I left the Post-Intelligencer and joined the staff at the Seattle Times, Alf had "retired" to publish a monthly business letter, to serve as acting Alllied Arts director and to work for Shirley, writing copy for Sur La Table's catalogs. He told me to just call him "scribe."
-- Jean Godden

Richard C Nelson

Posted at 12:16pm
Shirley: We are very sorry to hear of Alf’s passing. What a rewarding memory we have of visiting you and Alf (with Peggy Goldberg and Ed Raftis) at your lovely Whidbey Island home. Ed currently is living in Moraga, CA in an Aegis facility near his son’s home. Ed sends his heartfelt condolences and said he is happy and grateful to have been part of your group of friends. We join in that sentiment. Rich and Alice Nelson

Kelly Collins

Posted at 01:46pm
My memories of my Dad go back to before I thought I could remember. I remember him coming home in the evenings from reporting on the Newark City Council meeting or the high school basketball game. He would sit down and (surprise!) read the newspaper. He let me sit on his lap while he read - I was about 4 years old then. Fast forward to 11 years old, walking around the Pike Place Market with Alf and Shirley, but I always walked ahead hoping it did not look like I was with my parents. My intentions were not as opaque as I hoped, when I later heard a report on my visit and Alf said " Kelly walked ahead of us so everyone would think she was alone". I was embarrassed then and in later years I was sorry that I had squandered the opportunity to spend time with my folks and learn more about the market from the experts. Alf and Shirley made those special events in life - graduations, weddings, birthdays - special by being there with us. The photos I have added below are of Mikaela's high school graduation (2009), Richard and I wedding (2011), and a couple of birthdays. I miss my Dad.


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