Long-time businessman, COTR co-founder Barry Collins dies at 82

Funeral services for long-time Demopolis businessman and Christmas on the River co-founder Barry Collins will be held at 3 p.m. today at Riverside Cemetery.

Barry Collins

Barry Collins

Collins, 82, died at his home Wednesday.

Collins founded Collins Communications in 1964 and was involved in the company until 1994. His sons Woody and Tim continue to operate the company.

An active participant in community affairs throughout his life, Collins is credited with founding Demopolis’ most well-known event, Christmas on the River, along with Mem Webb in 1972. The idea for COTR struck Collins when he saw a similar event in Chicago.

“Barry was certainly a super person. He was always good for participating in civic activities. Not only was he one of the founding fathers of Christmas on the River, but he was instrumental in seeing that it was developed over the years,” Webb said. “He was a very smart man. He was a prince of a fella and he will surely be missed. He was a very dedicated person and a family man.”

Collins enjoyed electronics and music from an early age. He began working at Demopolis’ radio station at the age of 15. He graduated from Demopolis High School and the University of Alabama, and returned to Demopolis to work at the radio station. He eventually went into the communications business with Austin Caldwell, who would later serve as Mayor of Demopolis for 19 years.

The two continued in partnership together until 1964, when Motorola and GE required that the two lines be sold separately. Collins took the Motorola line and Caldwell took GE.